GENEVA, April 9. /TASS corr. Konstantin Pribytkov/. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) does not have verified information on the alleged use of a chemical weapon in the city of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, because there are no ICRC representatives in the region, the ICRC Spokeswoman Iolanda Jaquemet informed TASS on Monday.
In response to the question from a TASS correspondent on whether the ICRC’s representatives have any information on chemical weapons use in Douma, Jaquemet said: "We are not in Douma, and given that we are not there, we know nothing about the alleged incident." She added: "As you know, chemical weapons are totally banned, but frankly, basically we have nothing to say, because we have no first-hand knowledge."
The ICRC spokeswoman harked back to last April’s Khan Sheikhoun incident, where the use of chemical weapons was also reported. Many journalists asked the ICRC to provide information on the incident. "We said then: look, we are not there, so we are not in a capacity to check and verify things by ourselves. When we don’t have a first-hand credible account, we just won’t say anything," Jaquemet stressed.
On April 7, a number of NGOs, including the White Helmets, alleged that chemical weapons were used in Douma, Eastern Ghouta in Syria. According to the statement published on the organization’s website on April 8, chlorine bombs had been dropped on the city, killing dozens and poisoning many locals who had to be brought to the hospital.
On Sunday, the Russian Foreign Ministry refuted the reports on the use of chemical weapons in the city of Douma, Eastern Ghouta. General Major Yuri Yevtushenko, head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Sides in Syria said that "numerous non-governmental organizations" had reported on the alleged use of a chlorine bomb in Douma by the Syrian armed forces, "including the White Helmets, notorious for spreading fake news." According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the reports on chemical attacks are being used by some Western countries to sabotage the operation aimed at eliminating the Jaysh al-Islam militants from the city of Douma.
The incident in Khan-Shaykhun, Idlib, where a chemical weapon may have been used, occurred on April 4, 2017, killing more than 100 people. The Russian Defense Ministry suggested that the Syrian air force had bombed workshops where terrorists were producing chemical agents. Washington blamed Damascus for carrying out a chemical attack, and on April 7 the US Navy struck the Shayrat airbase in Syria’s Homs province.