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New OPCW report on chemical weapons use in Syria raises questions — Russian diplomat

A report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria’s Hama province on March 24-25, 2017 fails to meet information gathering and analysis criteria and raises questions, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.

"It becomes obvious already after the first reading of the report that the methods of the [OPCW] mission’s work are still far from the requirements for gathering and analyzing information on the alleged use of chemical agents that are set forth in the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the OPCW regulatory documents," the Russian diplomat noted.

"It is also questionable why the report was released more than a year after the chemical attacks were registered and what value the analysis of the probes generally has after the elapse of such a lengthy period," Zakharova noted.

Moreover, "all this [the OPCW report] appeared intentionally for the agenda of a special session of the Conference of the Convention’s member states being convened already the other day by a group of Western states and scheduled to take place in The Hague on June 26-28," the Russian diplomat said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman did not rule out that another report might appear closer to this date on the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7 this year.

"It won’t come as any surprise, if on the eve of the conference the corresponding report appears on the chemical incident in Douma contrary to the reliable information received by the Russian military specialists on the staged nature of the incident," Zakharova pointed out.

The OPCW press office reported on June 13 that its fact-finding mission probing the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria confirmed in a new report that "sarin was very likely used as a chemical weapon in the south of Ltamenah, Syrian Arab Republic, on 24 March 2017."

The fact-finding mission also concluded that chlorine was very likely used as a chemical weapon during the shelling of Ltamenah Hospital and the surrounding area on March 25, 2017.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 15Jun18]

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