French Foreign Ministry announced the possible destruction of evidence at the site of chemical weapons in Syria

FRANCE (OBSERVATORY) – The French Foreign Ministry is confident that any evidence on the site of the possible use of chemical weapons in the Syrian city of the Duma was highly likely to have been destroyed.

“It is highly probable that the evidence and essential elements disappeared from the place that is under the control of the Syrian and Russian armies,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“Until now, Russia and Syria have not provided investigators with access to the site of the attack, despite the fact that they arrived on April 14,” the ministry said.

“It is very important that Syria immediately provide full and unhindered access to representatives of the OPCW for visiting places, interviewing people and studying documents,” the report says.

The investigation of the chemical attack in the Duma

On April 7, Western media reported with reference to Syrian militants that government troops used, in attacking their positions in the Duma in East Gut, draft bombs that might have contained chemical poisoning substances. According to “White Helmets”, which was described by the television channel Al-Jazeera, as a result of the use of chemical weapons, up to 70 people were killed, about 100 injured.

Damascus refuted these reports. As the Syrian national agency informed, quoting the official representative, the militants of the radical group “Jays al-Islam”  throw false information about the alleged use of chemical weapons to prevent the offensive of government troops.

On April 9, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that military experts from Russia visited the site of the alleged chemical attack in Syria without finding traces of chlorine there.

In turn, US President Donald Trump on April 9 said he admits the possibility of using force against Syria in response to information about a chemical attack in the Duma. “No options are excluded,” the US president said at a meeting with members of his administration.

Immediately after the appearance of reports on a possible chemical situation in the Duma, the OPCW was told about the steps taken in this regard: there they “carefully monitored the incident data and made a preliminary analysis of reports on the alleged use of chemical weapons,” the report said on the organization’s website. It also stated that the experts of the OPCW mission “collect additional information from all available sources to determine whether chemical weapons were used.”

On April 10, the press service of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons reported that experts of the organization will soon go to the Syrian city of the Duma to collect data on the alleged chemical incident on April 7. “The team of experts of the OPCW is preparing to go to Syria in a short time,” the press service said.

The request from the organization coincided with the request of the Syrian and Russian sides to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Duma. In Damascus, the mission of the OPCW was urged to arrive in Syria as soon as possible.

The Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the OPCW, on its part, called upon the OPCW Technical Secretariat “to urgently send experts from the fact-finding mission to Syria in order to clarify all the details of this incident.” The Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation expressed the hope that the technical secretariat “in a very difficult situation will show its will and will act in accordance with its reputation and fulfill its mandate in strict compliance with the provisions of the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.”

UN Secretary General António Guterres also called on the OPCW to conduct a thorough investigation into the reports of a possible chemical attack in Syria. “This requires a thorough unimpeded investigation by the OPCW, without any restrictions,” he said.

Meanwhile, on 10 April, members of the UN Security Council voted on three draft resolutions – the American one (on the establishment of a mechanism for the investigation of chemical agents in Syria) and the two Russian (on the creation of an independent UN mechanism to investigate the chemical in Syria and in support of sending the OPCW mission to the place of the incident in the Duma ).

The United States, Great Britain, France and Poland voted against the resolution of the Russian Federation on the mission of the OPCW in the Duma, Russia, Kazakhstan, Bolivia, China and Ethiopia supported it, the remaining six countries abstained. The project was not adopted, as it did not score the required number of votes – nine. The United States and Britain explained the vote against the fact that the mission of the OPCW has already been sent to the Duma.