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Russian diplomat believes Western obsession with Assad leads to dead end

April 27, 2017, 10:30 UTC+3 NEW YORK

Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman says Western countries are too focused on an idea of ousting Bashar Assad and this brings the political settlement in the country to a dead end

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© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

NEW YORK, April 27. /TASS/. Western countries are too focused on an idea of ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad and this brings the political settlement in the country to a dead end, Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in an interview with Yahoo Global News.

"To my mind, the main idea of the West is just ‘Assad must go.’ That is the concept. That is something the Western world is focused on and probably, it does not have any desire to somehow manage the situation in a political track," Zakharova said. "It’s not the way out, this is the dead end," she stressed.

The diplomat insisted that a professional and official investigation into the alleged chemical weapons attack should be carried out in Syria’s Idlib Governorate.

"I think there are special people, who have to deal with this situation. Not you, not me, not journalists, not politicians, not business people, not teachers, not students. But specialists who are just in charge of giving reports to the international community on what has happened. That is what we are proposing and insisting on. Just to bring a group of specialists to Syria and let them do their job, and let them bring all the information back to the Security Council."

"Our decisions, our conclusions should be based on real evidence," she stressed, warning against repeating the 2003 Iraq scenario.

In its report to the UN Security Council in February 2003, a UN commission said no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. However, a month later the US launched an offensive in Iraq. During the operation, no chemical or biological weapons were found, and a model vial of anthrax held by former US Secretary of State Colin Powell during a presentation to the UN Security Council turned out to be fake.

"That was the worst thing that happened to the Security Council, to the United States, to the Middle East region," Zakharova said. "Some people said this was a huge mistake, I think that was not a mistake, that was done on purpose," she said.

Earlier this month, Washington accused Damascus of using chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun, in the Idlib Governorate. Following an order by US President Donald Trump, the US military fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from its warships in the Mediterranean at an air base located in Syria’s Homs Governorate in the early hours of April 7. The missile strike targeted what Washington claimed was the source of the chemical attack. Russia believes the April 4 incident in Khan Shaykhun was either a provocation or that a Syrian missile hit a workshop with chemical weapons belonging to militants.

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