Investigate chemical incidents in Syria instead of blaming Damascus & distorting our views – Moscow
“All the ongoing attempts by the US to accuse the Syrian government of using chemical warfare agents in combat against the so-called “opposition” are based solely on social media rumours, testimonies of the militants, and have never been backed by facts,” Russia's Defense Ministry said. The statement was in response to recent comments by high-ranking US officials who once again accused Damascus of using chemical weapons, with Moscow covering it up despite the “facts” of chemical weapons deployment.
The US, however, “shows no interest and often simply ‘ignores’ the objective facts” of terrorists using chemical weapons against “the army and civilian population,” the ministry stated. All “evidence” of the alleged use of chemical agents, meanwhile, is taken at face value, despite the numerous flaws and shady sources.
“This fully applies to the US-approved results of the so-called “remote investigation” of the events in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun, conclusions of which, are based on data from social networks, contradictory “evidence” from questionable sources, and violating the basic laws of physics,” Russia's Defence Ministry added.
The Khan Shaykhun chemical incident, which occurred in April 2017, appears to be the cornerstone of the nagging allegations of prohibited weapons use levelled against the Syrian government. After the incident, the US launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea at Syria's Shayrat Airbase. The strike was ordered by US President Donald Trump as a retaliatory response to the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack, which was promptly blamed on the Damascus.
Russia's Foreign Ministry again commented on the US charges Friday, referring to an informal document titled, “Assessment of the Russian Federation's Positions Regarding the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria.” The paper was circulated by the US delegation in the UN Security Council (UNSC) on January 9, and focused primarily on the Khan Shaykhun incident.
“The content of this document has nothing in common with reality and completely distorts our country’s approach to the investigation” of the chemical incidents in Syria, the ministry said in a statement. Moscow said the report contained flawed analysis and frame-ups that defied both logic and professional ethics on the part of US diplomats.
Russia has “consistently and persistently” drawn the international community’s attention to the incidents involving the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and has repeatedly called for an independent and impartial investigation into the matter. It further rejects US accusations of Moscow’s alleged obstruction of investigations into the Khan Shaykhun incident, supposedly aimed at defending the Syrian government.
The ministry underlined that Damascus has on many occasions invited experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to visit both Khan Shaykhun and the Shayrat Airbase to aid their investigation.
The US has claimed that the aircraft which allegedly dropped chemical bombs on Khan Shaykhun took off from the Shayrat base. Neither Damascus, nor Moscow has ever impeded the investigation, the statement clarifies. It added that it was the experts themselves, who eventually refused to visit the town, and travelled to the airbase only six months after the incident.
“Attempts to put all the blame [for the chemical incidents in Syria] on Damascus are absolutely illogical,” the statement says, adding, that it's the terrorists and their backers who are in fact benefiting from such “provocations.”
The ministry also called on UNSC states to “objectively assess the essence of the US attempts to force wrong ideas about the culprits behind the chemical incidents in Syria upon the international community.”
Moscow has maintained its criticism of the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) mission. Russia said JIM failed to use all available methods of investigation and apparently conducted their inquiry “with gross deviations from the high CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention] standards.” In October 2017, it also vetoed a UNSC resolution drafted by the US which sought to extend the mandate of the mission beyond November 17, 2017.