SYRIA (OBSERVATORY) – Experts of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Tuesday finally entered the Syrian city of Duma – a week and a half after, according to Western statements, there was a chemical attack in this settlement. The arrival of experts of the organization was reported by the SANA agency, and then confirmed by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Moscow is convinced that there was no chemical incident in the Duma on April 7, and they consider it to be a mockery. Russia’s permanent representative to the OPCW, Alexander Shulgin, said that Russia has “irrefutable evidence” of involvement in this “provocation” of the British intelligence services and “perhaps … senior allies from Washington.”
Against the background of accusations
In London and Paris, it was previously assured that Moscow and Damascus were denying OPCW mission staff access to the site of a possible incident. The Russian Foreign Ministry denied such accusations. As official representative of the Russian ministry Maria Zakharova stated, inspectors’ access was hampered by the fact that there are still fighters in the city.
The Director General of the OPCW, Ahmet Uzumju, explained that Russia and Syria had previously notified the mission of the need to resolve security issues in the Duma before the experts of the organization began to work there. Igor Kirillov, chief of the Russian Federation’s forces for radiation, chemical and biological protection (RCBP), said that the UN security service will be deployed to reconnoitre the route, and then the OPCW experts will be able to start studying the site of the alleged incident. In the organization itself, the date of the Duma’s visit was not commented on by nine of its experts.
Prior to the OPCW experts’ visit to the Duma, the United States stated that representatives of the Russian Federation who visited the site of a possible chemical attack “could make changes there to disrupt the OPCW mission’s efforts to conduct an effective investigation.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied the possibility of such a scenario.
“I guarantee that Russia did not interfere in the place (incident – ed.),” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the BBC.
Already after reports that experts from the OPCW reached the Duma, the Russian military reported that they had found a warehouse in the suburbs with the substances necessary for the production of mustard gas, and a balloon with chlorine was also found.
“Detected substances, such as thiodiglycol, diethanolamine, are needed for the production of sulfur and nitrogen mustard.” In addition, a chlorine balloon, similar to the one used by the militants for setting up a replicated fake plot, was found in the warehouse, and it can be concluded that the laboratory was used by illegal armed formations for production poisonous substances. Said specialist of the troops of radiation chemical protection Alexander Rodionov.
Representatives of another international body, the World Health Organization (WHO), can also come to the Duma. Earlier, the department claimed about 500 people injured as a result of chemical poisoning. The Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the Geneva branch of the United Nations, Gennady Gatilov, pointed out to the leadership of the organization the illegitimacy of such statements, which are not based on objective facts.
The decision to send experts to WHO was announced following the meeting of Gatilov with the WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, after which the Russian permanent representative stated that the organization would assess the medical situation and adjust its statements.