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Evidence of sarin use in Syria’s Al-Latamna looks tailor-made — Russian OPCW envoy

November 10, 0:51 UTC+3
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THE HAGUE, November 9. /TASS/. Evidence concerning the March 30 incident in Syria’s Al-Latamna cited in the latest report of the fact-finding mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) looks to be clearly tailor-made, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin said on Thursday.

"The fact-finding mission has a big experience of investigations. It has elaborated a certain algorithm of actions. At the same time, drawbacks and gaps in its methods have become more visible," he said at a meeting of the organization’s executive council. "It has showed up again in the just published report on the investigation of the March 30 incident in Al-Latamna."

"Preliminary analysis of the document made by Russian experts has revealed that the mission used the old faulty methods of remote work ‘in a neighboring country,’" he said. "This time however the far-fetched conclusions on the use of sarin in Al-Latamna are based mainly on the presence of traces of this toxic agent on fragments of air bombs provided in abundance apparently ‘to the order’ of non-government organizations affiliated with militants of terrorist groups. Among these fragments are large pieces of chemical munitions, delay fuses and, obviously, filler neck lids, air bomb tails. And all of this is excessively ‘dressed’ with sarin and its degradation products. In other words, everything the fact-finding mission and the Joint Investigative Mechanism lacked in the case of the chemical incident in Khan Sheikhun."

All this, in his words, it proves that "it is necessary to correct" drawbacks in the mission’s work and do it immediately. Thus, the Russian side insists that investigations involve visits to the sites of incidents. Moreover, the team of investigators should include experts from various countries but not only from those "states whose governments openly demonstrate hostile attitudes to Syria’s legitimate authorities."

As concerns the Al-Latamna incident, the Russian diplomat pointed to many other "amazing things and coincidences." "First, the investigation of this incident lasted six months and neither the executive council nor the Syrian government had any idea of that," Shulgin said. "That’s about the transparency of the fact-finding mission’s activities: in this case it was equal to zero."

"Second, it became known that traces of sarin had been found in the samples literally a day before the United Nations Security Council’s voting on extending the mandate of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism in Syria," Shulgin noted, adding that this news was used to insist on extending the mechanism’s mandate.

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