“The Council of the European Union has added four individuals to the list of people targeted by EU restrictions against the Syrian regime over their involvement in production of chemical weapons and its use against the Syrian population. The embarrassed press service of the Council of the European Union, of course, deleted the release. It is unclear how the EU foreign ministers are going to vote on that during the meeting on March 19?” Russia's Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov stated.
According to the Defense Ministry, Syrian government forces did not use chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta, as was reported by Western and Arab media.
"Militant groups, backed by the United States and the UK, were preparing provocations with the use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta in order to blame it on Damascus and its allies," the ministry added.
The comments come shortly after mainstream media reported the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian settlement of Hamoryah, informing about a large number of people who suffered "asphyxiation." Konashenkov emphasized that such "reports" by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, as well as the Illionois-based Syrian-American Medical Society "were coordinated at the highest political level to justify new sanctions."
Earlier this week, the Council of the EU published a statement addressing fresh sanctions on Syria for chemical attacks against civilians; the memo is dated March 19 – the day when the foreign ministers of the EU member-states are expected to meet in Brussels. The Council’s press service has already commented on the announcement, saying it was a technical error, and quickly removed it from the official website.
The statement stipulated the inclusion of four people to the list of individuals falling under restrictions against the Syrian government for developing chemical weapons and using them against civilians. While the publication did not disclose the identities of those Syrian officials, it was briefly noted that three of them were scientists, and the forth was a military man. Such malfunctions may happen from time to time due to task overload.
French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly threatened to strike Syria if it’s proven that Damascus used chemical weapons against its civilians; while France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said “all indications” have suggested that government forces used chlorine against rebel forces throughout the civil war, although he added that they “hadn’t completely documented that.”
Western governments accuse Syrian president Bashar al-Assad of being responsible for the use of sarin gas in April 2017, an allegation he has repeatedly denied, reiterating that Syria does not possess a chemical weapons arsenal, the full destruction of which is confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Earlier this week, Syrian government forces discovered a clandestine workshop, which was used by terrorists to produce chemical weapons; chlorine was also found at the site.