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US refusal to inspect Shayrat airbase evokes alarming thoughts — Russian diplomat

Russian officials have called for an on-site investigation into the Khan Shaykhun incident on many occasions

MOSCOW, July 6. /TASS/. The US refusal to visit the Shayrat airbase, which Washington claims was used by the Syrian government to launch the April 4 chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun, calls to mind alarming thoughts about the reasons behind the denial, a senior Russian diplomat said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s Director of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Mikhail Ulyanov said the results of the international investigation would be much more complete if OPCW experts actually visited Shayrat Airbase where the sarin, used in Khan Sheikhoun, was allegedly stored.

"Against this backdrop, Washington’s continued claims that the Syrians are allegedly once again planning to use Shayrat Airbase for a chemical attack seem strange, to say the least," the Russian diplomat was quoted as saying in a transcript of an earlier briefing on Syria for accredited representatives from the OPCW Executive Council and the UN Security Council member states.

"If US partners are really confident about this, then they should grab at the chance to visit this facility to obtain evidence showing that Damascus is guilty of violating the Convention and to prevent the use of poisonous gases. But the United States continues to emphatically refuse to do this. This is giving rise to alarming thoughts and evoking even more serious questions," he went on.


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 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.