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Diplomat: Syria chemical attacks report insufficient for imposing sanctions on Damascus

August 31, 9:16 UTC+3
The OPCW-UN specialists claim that they have sufficient information confirming the complicity of Syrian government forces in the chemical attacks in the province of Idlib
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© ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Pochuyev

UNITED NATIONS, August 31. /TASS/. The data contained in the report of the OPCW-UN joint mission to investigate chemical attacks in Syria are not enough to place responsibility for some incidents on Damascus and impose Security Council sanctions against it, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin told reporters after a closed-door Security Council meeting on Tuesday.

"Frankly, I don't," the diplomat said answering a question on the issue. "We continue to, of course, analyze the report, but again there are two cases, which, they suggest, are the fault of the Syrian side. We have very serious questions."

According to Churkin, experts of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have already established that chlorine was in all likelihood used during the conflict in Syria. However, there is no hard evidence that the Syrian government forces are implicated in this. The diplomat emphasized that some of the report’s provisions are worded in such a way that they give no full confidence that these findings are fully accurate.

The delegations of the UK and France earlier said that they would seek measures against those responsible for using chemical weapons in Syria.

The report on the investigation conducted by the UN and OPCW experts was submitted to the UN Security Council on August 24. They investigated the cases of the use of chemical agents in Syria from December 2015 to August 2016. The investigators were able to make conclusions on those responsible for the chemical attacks only in three cases.

The OPCW-UN specialists claim that they have sufficient information confirming the complicity of Syrian government forces in the chemical attacks in the province of Idlib. The conclusions are based, among other things, on the evidence of eye-witnesses and a forensic expert study. Thus, according to the specialists, the remainder of a shell found at the place of the attack in Sarmin corresponds to the design of a barrel bomb - a weapon used by the Syrian aviation.

Syria agreed in September 2013 to place its chemical weapons at the disposal of the international community for their subsequent elimination as part of a deal concluded between Moscow and Washington. The deal was preceded by a gas attack in the suburbs of Damascus, which killed from 280 to 1,700 people, according to various data. The agreement on Syria’s chemical disarmament was sealed by UN Security Council Resolution 2118 passed on September 27, 2013. The UN Security Council warned in this resolution that in case of the use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria, it might take measures under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which admits of the possibility of imposing sanctions and using military force.

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