Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova’s comment on the OPCW inspectors’ visit to Douma, Syria

Saturday, 21 April 2018 05:49

According to the information available, on the morning of April 21, the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission departed to the alleged site of the April 7 chemical attack in Douma in Eastern Ghouta. It should be said that this took place 11 days after the OPCW’s Technical Secretariat received an official request from Damascus to send OPCW inspectors. We consider such a delay in this high-profile case, whatever the reasons for it, unacceptable. The safety of the OPCW inspectors was guaranteed, not only by the Syrian authorities, but also by the command of the Russian military group in Syria.

We hope that the OPCW inspectors will act as objectively as possible to investigate all the circumstances of the supposed attack in Douma and will soon submit an unbiased report. It is all the more important because this is the first official visit to the site of a chemical attack, as alleged by the Syrian opposition and the affiliated NGOs, in the history of chemical weapons in Syria. Until now, the OPCW and the UN conducted only remote investigations, based on the data provided by the opponents of the Syrian authorities.

At the same time, it is a matter of serious concern that the OPCW experts have tried to limit the number of places they will visit and individuals they will question in the area of the alleged chemical incident. This is evidence of their reluctance to cast light on yet another prearranged provocation involving toxic chemicals, which has already led to three Western countries that are permanent UN Security Council members delivering a missile strike on a cache of toxic agents and components for the manufacture of chemical weapons, belonging to militants in Douma.

In this context, we express our indignation at the continued manipulation of facts and deliberate distortion of reality, which abound in statements made by some Western officials, for example an interview granted by Foreign Minister of France Jean-Yves Le Drian to the BFMTV television network. It is regrettable that such statements are made by the officials of a state whose leadership President of Russia Vladimir Putin invited on April 13 to join the investigation of the latest alleged attack and to send its military experts to Douma without delay. However, Paris has decided instead to blindly follow Washington’s scenario of a demonstration missile attack on Syria in violation of the UN Charter.

We urge our Western colleagues to come to their senses and to avoid any action that could hinder the establishment of truth regarding the April 7 provocation in Eastern Ghouta and hold back efforts towards a political settlement in Syria, based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254, the decisions taken in Astana and the recommendations issued by the Syria National Dialogue Congress in Sochi.

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