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OPCW Decision Not to Send Chemical Weapons Experts to Syria 'Strange' - Lavrov

© REUTERS / Ammar AbdullahA 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.
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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The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) decision not to send an investigative mission to the reported April 4 use of chemical weapons in Syria is strange, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson enter a hall during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, April 12, 2017 - Sputnik International
Lavrov to Tillerson: Russia Regrets US Opposes Proposal on Idlib Incident Probe
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.

"This is strange, because the decision did not stipulate anything other than to conduct an independent, impartial, transparent investigation with an expert visit to the site," Lavrov said following talks with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Russia expects the international chemical weapons watchdog to send experts to Syria to investigate this month's US attack on a government military airfield and a reported chemical weapons incident, Lavrov said.

"We will expect that after all, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] will send experts to Khan Sheikhoun and to the [Sha'irat] airfield strictly on the basis of its mandate, which requires the widest possible geographical representation of experts," Lavrov said.

He expressed hope that the OPCW investigation would be transparent "and not cloaked in any secret from member countries that pay for the work of this mechanism."

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
OPCW Verdict on Sarin in Idlib Reminds 'Making Diagnosis Without Seeing Patient'
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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