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Russia not satisfied with report on Khan Shaykhun incident probe — diplomat

The report was plagued by a number of serious flaws, the Russian diplomat said

THE HAGUE, July 7. /TASS/. Russia views the report by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria on the April 4 chemical incident in Khan Shaykhun as not satisfactory, Russia’s OPCW envoy told TASS on Thursday.

The OPCW executive council gathered for an emergency session in The Hague on July 5 to discuss the report about the April 4 incident in Syria’s Idlib Province.

"It is totally evident that the aim of this meeting, summoned on a request from the Western states, was to create more noise regarding the alleged responsibility of the Syrian government and President Bashar Assad in person for the tragedy that took place in the Idlib province on April 4," Alexander Shulgin said. "Although the report does not point directly on the perpetrator of this crime, this chemical attack, the US and its allies have already named those responsible, namely the legitimate Syrian authorities."

"We, on our part, have outlined our point of view and explained why we cannot view the results of the fact-finding mission’s investigation as satisfactory," he added.

The Russian envoy said that despite Russia’s calls, the mission’s specialists failed to visit the site in Khan Shaykhoun, as well as the Shayrat airbase, which the United States and its allies claimed was the location used by the Syrian government to launch the attack.

As a result, the report was plagued by a number of serious flaws, Shulgin said.

"For one thing, the mission was unable to fulfill the basic principle of the OPCW - to comply with the due procedure for preserving the evidence gathered on the site," he said. "In other words, samples and biomedical evidence that were obtained by the mission, were taken not in the presence of the inspectors, but by third parties, and there is no certainty on where they come from and who those people are. The procedure was violated, and the report clearly admits this," the diplomat went on.

"Another important point is that the report identifies the chemical agent that was used as sarin. At the same time, the mission’s experts were unable to determine what kind of munitions were used and what exactly happened. For example, whether the explosion took place in the air or on the ground. They obtained no fragments of munitions and could not examine the site. And, thirdly, they worked with questionable data, obtained from the Syrian armed opposition and various non-governmental organizations, including the White Helmets, notorious for their eagerness to stage provocations," he added.


Khan Shaykhun incident and OPCW report

The OPCW report published on June 29 said that sarin or a similar nerve agent was sprayed in Syria’s Khan Shaykhun. As a result, nearly 100 people, many of them children, were killed. The report will later be handed over to the joint UN-OPCW investigative mechanism that would determine those responsible for the attack.

The incident involving the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib province occurred on April 4. Washington accused Damascus of using chemical weapons, after which the US Navy delivered a missile strike in the small hours of April 7 on Syria's Shayrat military airfield in the province of Homs.