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Russia does not rule out need for new Douma incident investigation — envoy to OPCW

According to the Russian envoy, the OPCW report is politically motivated

THE HAGUE, July 12. /TASS/. Russia does not rule out the need to launch a new investigation into the incident that occurred in Syrian Douma in April 2018, Russian Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador to the Netherlands Alexander Shulgin told a press conference on Friday.

According to him, the Russian side expressed hope during a session of the OPCW Executive Council this week that an additional probe into the incident would be conducted in light of the new facts that emerged recently and new conclusions would be drawn.

"We would like to study the reports of three independent experts, which concluded that the cylinders fell from a high altitude," the diplomat pointed out. "We ask you to publish these reports. Our experts, international scientists will analyze them and in case the conclusions are not persuasive, we need to re-launch the investigation."

Shulgin also pointed to the need to reform the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria, which prepared the document. "More and more delegations to the OPCW realize that something has to be changed," he stressed.

The official also claimed that the report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) regarding the alleged chemical weapon attack in Syria’s Douma is politically motivated, Russia's Permanent Representative to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin said during a press conference on Friday.

"It is logical to ask questions to people living in Douma, where it all happened," Shulgin noted. "Why didn’t the OPCW experts question those people? Were they willing to do that? Did they have the opportunity? Unfortunately, we have to conclude that experts of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) did not have a need for that. They were motivated by something else." Shulgin added that the head of the mission had never been to Douma, which "creates the impression that experts had to collect specific information that would remain within specific bounds."

"This is a very vicious method of the FFM’s work," the envoy stated. "We witnessed it not only in Douma, but in relation to other incidents as well, when they preferred to work with representatives of non-governmental organizations, terrorist organizations, while substantive and verified data from official Syrian sources and witnesses was ignored," he added. "I am becoming more confident that this version of events was politically motivated."

The Douma attack

A number of non-governmental organizations, including the White Helmets, alleged that chemical weapons were used in Douma, Eastern Ghouta. According to a statement uploaded to the organization’s website on April 8, 2018, chlorine bombs had been dropped on the city, which caused dozens of fatalities. Many other civilians were rumored to have been taken to hospital.

The Russian Defense Ministry dismissed this as fake news.

On March 1, 2019, a report consisting of over 100 pages was spread among member states of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The report claims that on April 7, 2018, a toxic chemical containing chlorine was used in Syria’s Douma as a weapon.

On April 14, 2018, the US, the UK and France delivered massive missile strikes at targets in Syria without authorization of the UN Security Council. Missiles hit a research center in Damascus, the headquarters of the Republican Guard, an air defense base, several military airbases, and army depots. Washington, London and Paris claimed the strikes had come as a response to an alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma.