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Lavrov slams allegations of Damascus using chemical weapons as ploy for ‘regime change’

"I’m sure that we must prevent it," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Artyom Korotayev/TASS
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
© Artyom Korotayev/TASS

ASTANA, April 21. /TASS/. The rejection of the Russian-backed plan for an investigation into the purported chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun and attempts to accuse the Assad administration of using chemical weapons appear to be a ploy for regime change in Syria, Russia’s top diplomat said Friday.
"Yesterday, our joint proposal that experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) should visit the scene of the purported incident where chemical weapons had been supposedly used was blocked by Western delegations without any clear explanations," Sergey Lavrov said at the meeting with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

This showed "a complete fallacy of the stance of our Western colleagues" who in fact prohibit the OPCW from sending their inspectors to the scene of the incident and the Shayrat airfield in the Homs province, which was allegedly the source of the chemical attack, Lavrov said. 
"I think that this is a very serious situation, because it is evident now that the false information about chemical weapons use by the Syrian state is being used to avoid enacting resolution 2254 that stipulates a political settlement. Instead, there is a move towards the long-standing plan for regime change. I’m certain that we must prevent it," Lavrov stressed.
This comes amid explicit statements from London and Paris that their experts have obtained samples from the scene of the incident. Meanwhile, Russia’s questions to the UK, France and the OPCW about the origin of these samples remain unanswered, he noted. "I think circumstances are coming to a head when this organization will discredit itself. If someone wants to contribute to this, such attempts need to be nipped in the bud," Lavrov stressed.