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Russian envoy slams WHO for recklessly releasing dubious information on Douma incident

Moscow considers it "unacceptable"

GENEVA, April 12. /TASS/. Members of the World Health Organization (WHO) exhibited a lack of responsibility when they released allegations that almost 500 people asked for medical help in the Syrian city of Douma on April 7 with symptoms of poisoning. These actions by the WHO employees only serve to egg on those powers that are stoking the conflict in Syria, said Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva, in a conversation with TASS.

Gatilov regarded the WHO’s statement as a serious one, highlighting that "it was made right when Syria had experienced a new uptick in tensions."

"We all have been hearing about the possibility of American strikes and the emergence of such a statement plays into the hands of those who strive for a scenario involving the use of force in Syria," the diplomat noted. "We consider it unacceptable."

"We reached out to WHO’s employees in charge and demanded that they present concrete sources of information on which this statement was based. Furthermore, [we] asked them to name the so-called healthcare partners that the WHO is referring to and to provide information on which specific medical facilities these almost 500 affected people turned to, who counted them and who made the diagnoses." "According to the information we possess, these ‘partners’ are none other than the representatives of the notorious White Helmets organization," Gatilov said.

"We regard all this as a flagrantly reckless dissemination of unsubstantiated information," Gatilov stressed.

A number of NGOs, including the White Helmets, stated that chemical weapons were used in Eastern Ghouta on April 7. The Russian Foreign Ministry slammed this report as fake news. The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the White Helmets are an unreliable source of information and are notorious for disseminating falsified material. Representatives from the Russian Reconciliation Center for the Opposing Sides examined Douma on April 9, and found no trace of any use of chemical weapons there.

Russia and Syria have already invited experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to visit Douma in order to investigate the incident. OPCW reported that it would soon send a special mission to the site and asked the Syrian authorities to prepare for the visit.