Khan Shaykhun: We must establish the truth

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
Khan Shaykhun: We must establish the truth
The question of what happened in Khan Shaykhun on April 4 remains unanswered. Russia’s critical attitude to the work methods and the conclusions of the report of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) in Syria on this matter is well known.

After three months of work, the FFM could only prove the use of sarin, thus confirming the findings of the Syrians themselves, who managed to obtain samples on site.

We believe there are fundamental flaws in the work of the Mission, including the following: the inquiry was conducted remotely, without visiting the scene of the incident; the CWC’s basic chain of custody principle hasn’t been honored. In fact, the central question remains unanswered – under what circumstances, and how was the chemical agent was deployed.

Now the task of finding out what exactly happened in Khan Shaykhun has been passed to the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) in Syria; we expect it to conduct a professional, transparent and depoliticized investigation of this incident, which is now being used by some to stir tensions around Syria.

It is important to consider all the versions of what happened in Khan Shaykhun with a primary focus on who, under what circumstances and how was the poisonous substance used. Conducting a full-fledged and unbiased investigation means visiting the scene of the tragedy as well as the Shayrat airbase, where sarin used in Khan Shaykhun was allegedly stored. The JIM has all the necessary reasons to do it, including legal ones.

Provided all the above requirements are met, it could be hoped that the truth will be established and the culprits of this crime exposed.

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