MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The Syrian authorities carried out work to destroy chemical weapons, all obligations have been met, an inspection can be carried out if there are doubts, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.
"Everyone knows that we carried out great work on our and US initiative to destroy all chemical weapons in possession of the Syrian authorities. They carried out their work, they met all their obligations as far as we know. This was confirmed by a corresponding special organization in the United Nations. If there are any doubts, this inspection can be carried out," Putin told the Mir television channel in an interview.
Commenting on the April 4 chemical weapon attack in Syrian Idlib, blamed by the West for the authorities in Damascus, Putin said that a through investigation into this incident was necessary in order to provide any judgments.
"You know that it is not difficult to do it using modern equipment, analysis systems, analyzers. If anybody among the official authorities used [chemical weapons],… elements of powder on the machinery, territory would definitely remain. The modern equipment will definitely detect them. What could be easier than… to visit this airfield and check everything there," Putin added.
Moscow does not see it possible to take any steps against the Syrian government without a thorough inspection of the April 4 chemical incident in Idlib, Putin said.
"Without verification, we do not consider it possible to take any steps against the official Syrian authorities," he told the broadcaster.
He offered two working theories of the events in the town of Khan Shaykhun as either an attack on a secret shop housing poisonous substances or a staged provocation.
"This is quite possible since the militants have repeatedly used [chemical weapons] and nobody argues with this," Putin stressed. "The second version is just a staging, in other words a provocation."
The chemical weapons incident in Syria’s Idlib province claimed the lives of some 80 people and inflicted harm on an additional 200 civilians. The opposition and a number of Western states accused the Syrian government troops of carrying out the attack, while Damascus denied these allegations. A Syrian army source told Sputnik that the army did not possess chemical weapons.
"This is done purposefully in order to inflate the hype and create preconditions, a pretext for additional pressure on the legitimate Syrian authorities," Putin asserted.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on April 5 that the airstrike near Khan Shaykhun by the Syrian air force hit a terrorist warehouse that stored chemical weapons slated for delivery to Iraq, and called on the UN Security Council to launch a proper investigation into the incident.
However, the incident was used as pretext for a US missile strike against the Ash Sha'irat airbase carried out late on April 6. US President Donald Trump characterized the strike as a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government troops while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was a violation of the international law. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the US missile strike against the Syrian airfield as a strategic mistake.
In an exclusive interview with Fox Business on April 12, US President Donald Trump blamed the current situation in Syria on Moscow's support for country's Assad, calling the Syrian leader "an animal."
Earlier this year, Syrian President Bashar Assad said that the country’s government had never used weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, against the Syrian people. Besides, under a Russian-US deal after the east Ghouta sarin gas incident in 2013, Damascus joined the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and agreed to destroy its stockpile under Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) oversight. In January 2016, the OPCW announced that all chemical weapons in Syria had been destroyed.