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West does not want to investigate incident in Idlib, Russian diplomat says

April 20, 8:28 UTC+3 THE HAGUE
"We guess that Americans probably have something to hide, since they persistently want to take the Shayrat airport out of the investigation," the diplomat said
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© DHA-Depo Photos via AP

THE HAGUE, April 20. /TASS/ Western countries do not want to properly investigate the incident with the possible use of chemical weapons in the Syrian province of Idlib, Alexander Shulgin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) told TASS.

On Wednesday, the meeting of the OPCW Executive Council took place. During that meeting Russia and Iran submitted a revised draft proposal for the investigation of the incident in the Syrian province of Idlib. However, the United States opposed the visit of the Syrian Chemical Weapons Detection Mission to the Shayrat airfield, since it "has nothing to do with the situation," the diplomat said.

The US delegation "spoke out against the involvement of any national experts in the work of the mission, they accused Russia of trying to "mix tracks and lead the investigation to a dead end."

"But the connection between the incident in Idlib and the airfield of Shayrat was established by the Americans themselves, who stated that the Syrian planes had flown from this airfield," the Permanent Representative stressed. "Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to determine if sarin or other chemical munitions were stored there or not," he stressed.

"Our view is that the Western countries are acting extremely inconsistently," the Russian diplomat said.

"We guess that Americans probably have something to hide, since they persistently want to take the Shayrat airport out of the investigation. Maybe they knew from the start there was no chemical weapons there, and all this was used only as an excuse?" he added.

On April 7, US President Donald Trump ordered a strike on Syria’s Shayrat military air base located in the Homs Governorate. The attack, involving 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM), came as a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Idlib Governorate on April 4. The US authorities believe that the airstrike on Idlib was launched from the Shayrat air base.

The Syrian military denied its involvement in the attack. Russia’s Defense Ministry said that on April 4, the Syrian air force had delivered an airstrike on the eastern outskirts of the town of Khan Shaykhun to destroy militant facilities used to produce chemical bombs. These bombs were sent to Iraq and were previously used in Aleppo.

Russia strongly opposed the US missile strike. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow considered the attack to be an act of aggression against a sovereign state. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in turn, said that the aggression was carried out under a false pretext.

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