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Russian diplomat blasts OPCW probe into chemical weapons use in Syria

December 15, 2016, 15:09 UTC+3
OPCW seems to be more diligent in probing into chemical weapons uses by Damascus than by militants, a Russian diplomat notes
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© Salah Ashkar via AP

MOSCOW, December 15. /TASS/. The fact-finding mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) seems to be more diligent in probing into allegations of the use of chemical weapons by Damascus than in investigating chemical weapons’ uses by militants, a senior Russian foreign ministry official said on Thursday.

"The OPCW has a mechanism to establish facts of possible uses of chemical weapons. I cannot say we are satisfied with their work," Mikhail Ulyanov, director of the ministry’s non-proliferation and weapons control department, told a news conference. "We have expected much more of it."

"The OPCW fact-finding mission is basically working in the remote regime. As a rule, it doesn’t reach the sites of incidents," he said. "The mission speaks with witnesses but primarily those who are in opposition to Damascus. It looks like, and I hope I am wrong, that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is more swift and unbiased when reacting to presumable use of chemical weapons by Damascus rather than by militants."

"For instance, a case of the use of chemical weapons by militants of the so-called moderate opposition was reported from Aleppo on August 2. The Syrian government, with our support, requested an investigation immediately," the Russian diplomat noted. "OPCW representatives reached the site with a considerable delay, in September or even in early October."

The issue of the visit by experts of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to Aleppo is under discussion, he went on. 

"Of course, the issue (of the OPCW mission’s possible visit to Aleppo - TASS) is under discussion. We strongly advise the OPCW to respond to the Syrian side’s requests more actively," Ulyanov said. "There were many requests to investigate certain incidents."

"I am not prepared to speak about the OPCW critically. I would rather say that we expect their work to become more effective, energetic and swift," the diplomat added.

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