Wednesday, April 7, 2021

OPCW likely to again make claims about chemical weapons use in Syria — Russian diplomat - TASS

The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) may announce the launch of another investigation into purported use of chemical weapons in Syria, Russian First Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy told a UN Security Council session on Tuesday.

In his words, although the previous IIT report "was well and truly beaten by the independent experts," the OPCW technical secretariat keeps turning a blind eye to this criticism.

  • "Apparently, it is a sign that prior to the grand theatrical finale, the IIT will give us yet another surprise by reporting another ‘pseudo investigation’ and its anti-Syrian results," he said.

The Russain diplomat also expressed certainty that "our Western colleagues would rush to interpret that unscrupulous product as alleged proof of the CW use by Damascus."

"Let me discourage you by saying that it would truly prove only one thing. It would prove that your methods of besmirching Damascus without providing any substantiated or trustworthy evidence have remained pretty much the same and that you would hardly score any extra points on that," he said.


OPCW report

On April 8, the IIT published its first report, assigning the responsibility to the Syrian authorities for three incidents with alleged use of sarin and chlorine in the town of Ltamenah, Homs Province, in March 2017. The OPCW version of events says that in two of these incidents, on March 24 and 30, Syrian military jets dropped aerial bombs containing sarin, injuring at least 16 people in the first attack and at least 60 in the second. Moreover, the report adds that on March 25 a Syrian Air Force helicopter dropped a cylinder containing chlorine on a hospital in Ltamenah to injure at least 30 people. IIT Coordinator Santiago Onate-Laborde claimed, "Attacks of such a strategic nature would have only taken place on the basis of orders from the higher authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic military command." The Russian permanent mission to the OPCW already reacted to the publication, slamming it as not very trustworthy and compiled with flaws.

The decision to establish the IIT as a group tasked with determining criminal responsibility for using chemical weapons was made at a special OPCW session in 2018 at the initiative of the US and the UK. The IIT draft sponsors did not hide the fact that in their view the organization’s key task will be assigning responsibility for all incidents (real or otherwise) related to chemical weapons to the Syrian army. The Russian side categorically opposed this decision as establishment of such a group is not provided in the Chemical Weapons Convention, while vesting the organization with additional powers is an interference into the domain of exceptional powers of the UN Security Council.

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