Russian Federation denies use of chemical weapons in Syria
- Author: Ryan Wade Apr 29, 2018,
Apr 29, 2018, 16:23
The witnesses discredited claims of an attack by the Assad regime during a briefing at the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague.
"This obscene masquerade does not come as a surprise from the Syrian government, which has massacred and gassed its own people for the last seven years", said Philippe Lalliot, the French ambassador to the Netherlands. He was referring to the Syrian rescue group.
Former colleagues of the Douma hospital workers told The Guardian that Syrian officials had subjected the medics to "extreme intimidation", threatening to harm their families if they made any mention of chemical weapons.
Russian Federation has organized the briefing on Thursday at the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons with about 15 Syrians, including at least three young children.
Samples taken from two sites will be returned to the OPCW's laboratory in the Netherlands and then sent on to affiliated laboratories for examination, the OPCW said in a statement.
The alleged chemical incident was only supported by the White Helmets' video and social media reports from militant-linked groups, but the USA, the United Kingdom and France judged they had enough evidence that it actually took place and launched a series of punitive strikes against Syria on April 14.
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The meeting comes on the same day that an worldwide conference gathering more than 70 countries in Paris focuses on combating terror financing. The U.S., France and Britain also blamed the Syrian government, and launched punitive airstrikes a week after the attack.
Halil al-Jaish, a resuscitator who tended to people at the Douma hospital that day, told the press conference that some of the patients had indeed experienced respiratory problems.
Both Syria and Russian Federation have denied the accusation and said rebel forces staged the attacks.
Many reporters in the room expressed disquiet at the spectacle of the young boy, who addressed them for all of 40 seconds, speaking in defense of the government that has been shelling his hometown for half his life.
The United States, France and Britain boycotted the meeting.
"Russia's decision to misuse it is yet another Russian attempt to undermine the OPCW's work, and in particular the work of its Fact Finding Mission investigating chemical-weapons use in Syria", he said.
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Eight years into the conflict, more than 13 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance; about a quarter of the population is displaced in neighboring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, according to the United Nations. "Everyone in Russian Federation says that, God forbid there is another war, we lost 27 million people in the last war, all we want is peace".
Russian Federation has presented more than a dozen alleged witnesses from Ghouta in Syria at The Hague to support its claim that the chemical attack this month was "staged".
Peter Wilson, Britain's ambassador to the OPCW, branded the briefing as a "stunt".
Syrian state media is reporting that government forces have pushed into a Damascus neighborhood held by the Islamic State group from different directions and captured buildings on several street blocks and tunnels used by the extremists.
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