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Moscow Says Chemical Weapons Likely Used in Idlib, Question is Who Did it

© AFP 2021 / Omar haj kadourSyrian civil defence volunteers, known as the White Helmets, carry a body retrieved from the rubble following reported government airstrike on the Syrian town of Ariha, in the northwestern province of Idlib, on February 27, 2017
Syrian civil defence volunteers, known as the White Helmets, carry a body retrieved from the rubble following reported government airstrike on the Syrian town of Ariha, in the northwestern province of Idlib, on February 27, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Chemical weapons may have been used in Syria's Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 but at issue is who delivered it there, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's nonproliferation and arms control department Mikhail Uliyanov said Monday.

A civil defence member breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017. - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces claimed that 80 people were killed and 200 injured in a suspected chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, blaming the Syrian government. Damascus vehemently rejected the accusations and said militants and their allies were responsible.

On Wednesday, the OPCW fact-checking mission investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhun said it had found traces of sarin in the victims' bodies. The next day, the OPCW rejected the Russian and Iranian proposal to investigate the suspected chemical weapons incident in Syria’s Idlib.

"It is quite likely that was probably what was used. The question is who and how delivered the weapon to the scene of the incident," Uliyanov said at a Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency press conference.

Russia will continue to use all opportunities to create an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) mission to investigate an April 4 chemical weapons incident in Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry told Sputnik on Monday.

"We can and must fight, we will do it, and we are doing it right now," head of the nonproliferation and arms control department Mikhail Uliyanov said.

Uliyanov said "there are spare moves, there are additional opportunities, we will exhaust them all."

"As for the OPCW Executive Council special session, which took place on April 13, April 19 and April 20, it was an extraordinary event. It has been 30 years since I have been engaged in multilateral diplomacy, but I have never seen such an evident, frank attempt of sabotage, conducted by the Western partners."

Civil defense members inspect the damage at a site hit by airstrikes on Tuesday, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 5, 2017 - Sputnik International
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The Russian Defense Ministry questioned how the OPCW, which he said was created as an objective and impartial international organization, was able to come to that conclusion in two weeks while still being unable to identify mustard gas use in Aleppo iMikhail Uliyanov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control (DNAC) said earlier that the OPCW inaction over chemical weapons incident could damage its credibility as there are no facts that OPCW representatives have visited the Khan Shaykhun area.

Earlier, Lavrov said Moscow was using its relations with Damascus to encourage the Syrian government to fully cooperate with the OPCW which announced in January 2016 that it had destroyed Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal in accordance with an agreement reached after the 2013 Ghouta attack.

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