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Russian MP slams US accusations against Moscow of sanitizing alleged chemical attack site

On April 7, a number of NGOs, including the White Helmets, alleged that chemical weapons were used in Douma, Eastern Ghouta

MOSCOW, April 20. /TASS/. Washington’s accusations against Moscow of sanitizing the alleged chemical attack site in Syria’s Douma are just another lie, Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Leonid Slutsky told reporters on Friday.

"The US State Department’s statement about the sanitizing of the alleged chemical attack site in Douma is no more than another lie and groundless accusation, for no evidence has been presented," Slutsky said. According to the senior Russian lawmaker, "Washington is once again trying to perform its favorite stunt and shift the responsibility on to others."

Slutsky pointed out that "it was the United States, acting together with Great Britain and France, that hampered the activities of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) by carrying out missile strikes on April 14." "It was a real aggression against a sovereign state, which violated international law. Its main goal was to cover up the staged chemical weapons attack in Syria," the Russian lawmaker added.

According to Slutsky, "staging investigations" is not a method that Russia employs, while the West is known for using such tools, as it first fabricates accusations against Russia, makes illegal decisions to expel diplomats - like it was done in the Skripal case - and then works to destroy evidence.

US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a briefing on Thursday that Washington had "credible information that indicates that Russian officials are working with the Syrian regime to deny and delay these inspectors from gaining access to Douma." We believe it is an effort to conduct their own staged investigations. Russian officials have worked with the Syrian regime, we believe, to sanitize the locations of those suspected attacks and remove incriminating evidence of chemical weapons use," Nauert added.

Alleged chemical weapons attack

A number of non-government organizations, including the White Helmets, allege that a chemical weapons attack took place in Eastern Ghouta’s town of Douma on April 7. In their April 8 statement, the White Helmets claimed that the attack had particularly involved chlorine-filled bombs. According to the White Helmets, dozens died in the attack, while 500 people "reached the medical centers with symptoms of exposure to chemicals."

The Russian Foreign Ministry slammed the statement as a bogus story, while Russia’s Defense Ministry pointed out that the White Helmets were not a reliable source of information as they were known for spreading fabricated news.

On April 9, officers from the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the opposing sides in Syria visited Douma but did not find any traces of chemical weapons.

However, on April 14, US warplanes and naval ships in cooperation with the United Kingdom and France carried out a missile attack on Syria’s military and civilian infrastructure facilities. The Syrian air defenses managed to shoot down 71 out of 103 missiles fired by the United States and its allies.

Washington, London and Paris claimed the strikes to be a response to the alleged chemical weapons attack.