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    Hasty Judgment About Alleged Idlib Attack Made Despite Inquiry Just Beginning

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    Chemical Weapons Incident in Syria’s Idlib Province (170)
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    Despite the fact that there are still not many details available about the reported chemical attack in Syria's northwestern Idlib, several countries have already accused Damascus of being responsible for the incident, an allegation the Syrian Armed Forces has refuted and redirected on militants.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Following the incident, both the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have begun investigating the incident, while the UN Security Council (UNSC) has convened an emergency meeting on the issue.

    INCIDENT

    There is still no clear picture of the reported attack in the town of Khan Shaykhun in Syria's Idlib province. Opposition groups and several western countries have reported on an aerial chemical attack, while US media has more specifically reported the use of the chemical sarin in the attack. The Syrian National Coalition of Revolution and Opposition Forces said the attack has claimed the lives of about 80 people.

    If the information about the use of chemical weapons is confirmed, the Idlib incident will be the biggest one involving such substances since the use of sarin in East Ghouta near Damascus in 2013. Following the 2013 attack, Syria's chemical arsenals were destroyed, but the party responsible for the incident was never identified.

    According to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, on Tuesday "from 11.30 to 12.30, local time, [8.30 to 9.30 GMT] Syrian aircraft conducted an airstrike in the eastern outskirts of Khan Shaykhun on a large warehouse of ammunition of terrorists and the mass of military equipment."

    The official said that from this warehouse, chemical weapons were delivered to Iraq by militants. He added that the weapons from the warehouse were used by terrorists in Syria's northern city of Aleppo.

    In order to find out the details of the attack, international organizations, including the OPCW, an organization which was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2013 for its many accomplishments, including its contribution to elimination of Syria's chemical weapons, have already initiated the investigation.

    The United States, France and the United Kingdom have introduced a draft resolution condemning the use of chemical weapons in Idlib and demanding that more information about the attack be provided to the joint UN-OPCW mission investigating the incident.

    WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?

    Despite the fact that there is little information about the Idlib attack available, and that it is too early to draw any conclusions, a number of western officials have already put the blame on Damascus.

    UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said "evidence" suggested that the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad was allegedly responsible for the chemical attack.

    French President Francois Hollande also condemned the attack saying that Damascus was the responsible party.

    The Turkish Foreign Ministry said that what they believed was the Syrian authorities' continued use of chemical weapons violated the UNSC resolutions 2118 and 2209.

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement that Assad was responsible for the Idlib attack and the countries supporting Damascus should have "no illusions" about his intentions.

    "While we continue to monitor the terrible situation, it is clear that this is how Bashar al-Assad operates: with brutal, unabashed barbarism. Those who defend and support him, including Russia and Iran, should have no illusions about Assad or his intentions," Tillerson said, adding that Moscow and Tehran "also bear great moral responsibility for these deaths," as they were guarantors to the ceasefire.

    At the same time, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that he could not speak about the US administration's response to the incident in Syria.

    In turn, the Syrian military refuted the accusations and instead claim that militants are responsible for the attack. A source in the Syrian army told Sputnik that the Syrian army did not have chemical weapons, and that the allegations could be part of anti-Damascus propaganda. In January, Assad told the Japanese TBS broadcaster that the Syrian government did not use weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, against own people.

    Several world politicians have also decided not to jump to conclusions. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres proposed that focus instead be directed toward the investigation.

    "We need a very clear investigation to remove all doubts and we need to have accountability based on the results of that investigation," Guterres said.

    He added that, at the moment, the international organization had not received any reliable information that could accurately depict and describe the details of the attack.

    Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said that the details of the incident were not clear and the collection of evidence could last several months.

    Topic:
    Chemical Weapons Incident in Syria’s Idlib Province (170)

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    chemical attack, Idlib, Syria
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