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OPCW report ignores version that Khan Shaykhun incident was staged — Russian diplomat

"Available photo and video materials deserve to be studied in the most meticulous way," Mikhail Ulyanov said

MOSCOW, July 7. /TASS/. The report by the OPCW fact-finding mission on Syria ignored the probability that the Khan Shaykhun chemical incident could be staged, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Director of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Mikhail Ulyanov has said.

A transcript of Wednesday’s briefing in Moscow for accredited representatives from the OPCW Executive Council and the UN Security Council member states on the Syrian "chemical dossier," released on Thursday, quotes the diplomat as saying that "from the very beginning, the Russian side considered it necessary to pay serious attention to the probability that the incident was staged, while conducting the investigation."

"But the OPCW FFM report also completely overlooks this aspect. At the same time, available photo and video materials deserve to be studied in the most meticulous way," Ulyanov was quoted as saying.

The Russian diplomat said that the Russian delegation tried to show iphoto and video footage at its disposal during the extraordinary session of the OPCW Executive Council on April 19, 2017. However, the US delegation fiercely opposed the move, although US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley had displayed photos of children allegedly affected during the Khan Sheikhun incident at the UN Security Council’s conference room shortly before that meeting.

During the briefing, Ulyanov showed several photos and videos to the audience, saying that they "help understand why we should not renounce the theory that the incident was staged."

"As you can see, those materials evoke a number of questions that were not answered by the FFM. How, for example, can the dilated pupils of the allegedly affected children be explained, if in the case of a true sarin attack the victims should have pinpoint pupils? For some reason, OPCW experts did not even try to solve this puzzle," he said.

"The same applies to the crater at the site where sarin was used," he continued. "We asked the OPCW technical secretariat to pay special attention to this issue, but our request was left unanswered. It appears that the authors of the report just did not care about fact that this crater does not fit the theory of an aviation bomb use."

He said that the lack of any fragments of an aviation bomb on photos and videos was also ignored.

"It is also interesting to note that, having received some "physical evidence" from the hands of the notorious White Helmets, the FFM specialists did not bother to obtain the dented steel tube, clearly visible on photographs from the blast crater. One can only guess what happened to this tube, which could shed light on the way sarin was used," the Russian diplomat said.


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.