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Russia hopes investigation in Idlib will begin no later than April 22

A diplomat notes that Russia and Iran put forward a draft decision to create an expert mission that would include experts from a number of countries

MOSCOW, April 14. /TASS/. Russia hopes that the mission of international experts to investigate the incident in Idlib will begin work in Syria no later than April 22, Russian Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Alexander Shulgin, said at an extraordinary meeting of the OPCW Executive Council. The text of his speech was posted on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday.

The diplomat noted that Russia and Iran put forward a draft decision to create an expert mission that would include experts from a number of countries, in addition to the OPCW Fact Finding Mission staff selected in accordance with the UN principle of equitable geographic representation. "For example, those could be experts from Russia, China, the US, the UK, France, Iran, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and other countries," he said.

"To accomplish the task to conduct an investigation successfully, the international expert mission, we would like to emphasize this, must travel directly to the scene of incidents, work in strict compliance with the methods approved by the OPCW with the focus on collecting material evidence rather than relying solely on speculations from the Internet and reports by alleged eyewitnesses interviewed in Syria’s neighboring country," Shulgin said.

According to the Russian ambassador, Moscows sees no "obstacles to the prompt beginning of the investigation considering the Syrian government’s willingness to provide free and safe access to al-Shayrat airbase for OPCW experts." "For their part, the countries that have influence with the armed Syrian opposition should help resolve the issue to ensure an early safe trip to Khan Sheikhoun," the diplomat said.

"After the incident in Idlib and the flagrant violation of international law by the United States, which resulted in the aggression against sovereign Syria, further delay is impossible. In view of this, would like to hope the Executive Council will adopt the submitted decision so that the international expert mission proposed by Iranians and us started working in Syria no later than April 22," the diplomat noted.

"Was it necessary for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons even theoretically, if it had them at all? Would that help somehow from a military point of view? Probably not," he said.

"The Syrian army has enough conventional weapons, the army is capable and efficient, all the more so because we can see the trend showing that the Syrian army has achieved success," the diplomat emphasized. "Aleppo has been released, control over Palmyra has been regained, the military is driving out international terrorists everywhere. They would not have achieved anything by using chemical weapons except for being exposed to the international community’s anger."

"Did the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad need that? Probably not. Did Assad’s opponents need that? In all likelihood, they did," he underscored.