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US lacks facts to accuse Syria’s government of using toxic chemicals - Defense Ministry

January 21, 1:23 UTC+3

The United States’ ongoing attempts to accuse the Syrian authorities of using toxic chemicals are based only on rumors from social networks, Russia’s Defense Ministry said

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MOSCOW, January 21. /TASS/. The US’ attempts to accuse the Syrian authorities of using toxic chemicals have never been substantiated with facts, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday.

Earlier, a senior State Department official said that Russia has allegedly "used every opportunity at its disposal to protect the Assad regime in its continued use of chemical weapons."

"The United States’ ongoing attempts to accuse the Syrian authorities of using toxic chemicals against so-called opposition during combat operations are based only on rumors from social networks, militants’ testimonies which both have been never substantiated with facts."

It includes in full the so-called US-backed "remote probe" into the chemical incident in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun. The conclusions were made on information from social networks, on mutually contradictory ‘testimonies’ from dubious sources and on [facts] violating fundamental laws of physics."

Russia’s Defense Ministry pointed out that Syria’s 1,200-tonne chemical weapons arsenal was moved from the country in 2014, following a proposal put forward by Russia’s president. The United Nations was in control of the process of seizing, taking out and transporting the chemical weapons, which was also monitored by US experts at all stages.

In January 2016, after the US waste disposal firm Veolia announced destruction of the last 75 liters cylinders of hydrogen fluoride, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) officially confirmed destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile was complete.

In addition, Russia had met in full its commitments on destruction of chemical weapons, whereas the United States had first suspended and later on halted the process under contrived pretexts, the Russian defense ministry said.

"In line with the commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Russian Federation has in advance completed destruction of the entire stockpile of its chemical warfare agents. In the meantime, the United States under invented pretexts has first suspended and by now has stopped implementing its commitments due to ‘lack of funding’ and thus keeping about ten percent of their stockpile of toxic chemicals and special munitions battle-ready," the Russian defense ministry said.

"Therefore, before coming forward with evidence-free accusations against Russia, moreover, before lambasting anyone at international forums, US counterparts should themselves be - but not pretend to be - an example for the world concerning a responsible attitude to implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention," it said.

Stances of US Department of State and Russian Foreign Ministry

On January 19, a senior State Department official told a briefing that State Secretary Rex Tillerson would attend a signing ceremony for the launch of the International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons in Paris on January 23.

"The overall point here is to hold those who use chemical weapons accountable, and this is a very high priority for the President [Donald Trump] and for the Secretary [Rex Tillerson], particularly now that Russia has used every opportunity at its disposal to protect the Assad regime in its continued use of chemical weapons," he said.

On January 18, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a session of the UN Security Council on issues of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction that some Western countries prefer turning a blind eye to the use and production of chemical weapons by terrorists in Syria and Iraq, at the same time accusing Damascus without furnishing proof. He said Moscow deems it inadmissible "to gamble on tasks of fight against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to achieve selfish geopolitical aims.".

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