12:40 GMT17 April 2021
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    Russia calls for a briefing under the auspices of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to reach a consensus conclusion on the April 2018 incident in the Syrian Douma, Russia's Permanent Representative to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin said on Monday at the UN headquarters in New York.

    UN Security Council, at the request of the Russian mission, held an informal meeting on Monday to assess the situation around the OPCW Fact-Finding-Mission’s Final Report on the incident in the Syrian Arab Republic.

    Analysts gave their views on why the "chemical attack" incident in the Syrian Douma in 2018 was not thoroughly investigated and whether it is possible to talk about anti-Russian or anti-Syrian progress in the investigation.

    Accusations Without Evidence

    Professor of International Relations at the National Research University Higher School of Economics Sergei Vorobiev sees the problem in the anti-Russian and anti-Syrian prejudices of the Western countries’ representatives.

    This leads to the possibility of bringing any charges against the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic without presenting any evidence or considering their arguments.

    “I think this story happened in line with the general anti-Russian trend when accusations are a priori accepted, which for some reason do not even need evidence. And this is not the first case: we can even talk about a systematic approach by Western partners”, he elaborates.

    Speaking about ignoring the independent results of the investigation of the Douma incident, the professor added that the non-inclusion in the OPCW's final report of conclusions that speak about the staged nature of the Douma incident is directly related to the anti-Russian rhetoric. In fact, he believes that we can talk about the anti-Russian and anti-Syrian character of the investigation.

    An Attempt to Undermine the Government Army's Accomplishments?

    Member of the People's Council of Syria Muhannad al-Haj Ali considers these allegations to be lies, primarily on the US part, as well as an attempt to prevent Bashar al-Assad's government from gaining full control over Syrian territories.

    “Every time the Syrian army carried out a successful offensive operation, the US pressed charges against the country to thwart its progress... We have repeatedly offered to send specialists to areas where chemical weapons were allegedly used. Let them be foreign experts, for example, from Russia or China. But we are constantly being refused”, he said.

    Syrian MP believes that this may mean that the OPCW is blindly accepting the American interpretation of the situation. In his opinion, the investigation was biased, directed against Russia and Syria.

    “We have opened doors for them and given them access to all areas. But the OPCW representatives recorded only the testimony of witnesses from Jabhat al-Nusra* and White Helmets. To carry out a full investigation, the UN must send in specialists from different countries who will speak with different witnesses in an unbiased manner. We put forward such initiatives but they are being rejected”, Muhannad al-Haj Ali said.
    People stand in front of damaged buildings, in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, Syria, Monday, April 16, 2018
    © AP Photo / Hassan Ammar
    People stand in front of damaged buildings, in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, Syria, Monday, April 16, 2018

    Double Standards

    Deputy Head of the Russian State Duma's Defence Committee Yuri Shvytkin, in turn, has called the reason for such a biased investigation in the OPCW the double standard policy of western partners.

    “There are clear facts of a staged nature but at the same time, we see that the countries of the Western coalition pursue double standards, indulge in wishful thinking, to once again form a false opinion about the legitimately elected Syrian government headed by Bashar al-Assad purporting that they are using chemical weapons against the local population. I would like to stress that this whole story is clearly anti-Syrian and anti-Russian. This situation requires thorough discussion within the UNSC”, the Russian MP said.

    Hard Evidence That Neither the UN nor OPCW Wants

    Muhannad al-Hajj Ali further spoke about the progress of the investigation and the irrefutable evidence provided to the international community that neither the UN nor OPCW was interested in. One can only guess why nobody heeded those facts.

    According to him, the Syrian government has provided plenty of material on falsification of the chemical attack. Among them is a videotape of a child and his family who said they had played a role in staged footage with chemical weapons.

    They were threatened with guns and had no choice. Many such testimonies were collected but they were not included in the final report. The Syrian army is now conducting a successful offensive in Idlib, which is why the American side is blaming it for every conceivable and unthinkable crime trying to destroy its reputation even more, the Syrian MP stressed.

    Yuri Shvytkin believes that under the current circumstances it is necessary to deal both with the compliance of the OPCW's actions with the organisation's goals and to draw the world community's attention to this problem, at least within the UN.

    “This situation requires close attention to the OPCW, an organisation that is dedicated to the non-proliferation of chemical weapons and protection of the world community from them. And as we see it is doing something else. Clearly, the UN must also be more active in such situations. We need to bring to justice those forces that were interested in staging that chemical attack”, he concluded.

    *Jabhat al-Nusra (also known as Al-Nusra Front, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, or al-Qaeda in Syria) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and other countries.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    chemical weapons, US, Russia, Syria, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
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