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THE HAGUE, July 7. /TASS/. Russia will insist on a visit by a team of international investigators to the city of Khan Shaykhun and the Shayrat airbase in Syria, Russia’s permanent envoy to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) told TASS on Thursday.
According to Alexander Shulgin, after the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria announced in its report that nerve agent sarin was used in Khan Shaykhun on April 4, the matter will be handled by the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) in Syria.
"Theoretically, the JIM works in coordination with the OPCW, but based on the previous experience, this coordination in practice leaves much to be desired," the Russian diplomat said. "We will see how the situation will unfold. We will raise the issue of eventually sending the JIM inspectors to the site, because the fact-finding mission failed to do so, so that they could find out what really happened."
"We are convinced that without this, the truth cannot be established. How can a person sitting in a five-star hotel make far-reaching conclusions without physical evidence, having only some kind of assumptions at his disposal?" Shulgin said.
"Yes, a lot of time has passed. But we hope that JIM will be able to hold a truly fair, impartial and all-encompassing investigation in order to create a complete and clear picture. At the same time, it is important not only to find the perpetrators of this abhorrent deed, but also those who inspired and guided them," he added.
According to the Russian diplomat, the threat of chemical terrorism is hanging over Europe as well.
"There are signals that terrorists prepare to use chemical warfare agents here, in Europe," Shulgin said, adding that the devastating consequences of such an attack in a crowded urban area can be learned from the 1995 Tokyo sarin attack.
"This is why it is important for us to hold a full-scale investigation and get to the truth instead of trying to baselessly put the blame for the April 4 tragedy in Idlib on the Syrian President Bashar Assad and his government," he added.
Khan Shaykhun incident and OPCW report
The OPCW report published on June 29 said that sarin or a similar nerve agent was sprayed in Syria’s Khan Shaykhun. As a result, nearly 100 people, many of them children, were killed. The report will be handed over to the joint UN-OPCW investigative mechanism that would determine those responsible for the attack.
The incident involving the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib province occurred on April 4. Washington accused Damascus of using chemical weapons, after which the US Navy delivered a missile strike in the small hours of April 7 on Syria's Shayrat military airfield in the province of Homs.