The United States has remained mum about several thousand militant extremists detained in Syria whom Washington would like to let off scot-free, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.
“We have taken note of the fact the US administration is keeping quiet about the several thousand foreign terrorists, who have been detained by the US-led coalition and the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces in Transeuphratia,” she said. “The explanation that it is allegedly impossible to agree on extradition procedures and parameters of legal assistance with the countries of origin are totally far-fetched.”
“Apparently this legal vacuum is being created deliberately with the aim to conceal the real aim: to let the militants dodge responsibility. It is noteworthy that in defiance of complicity in terrorism no charges are put forward or investigative measures taken.”
Zakharova said Russia knew well the number of militants and the conditions in which they were being kept.
“According to our sources, there are two or three thousand militants, mostly from Europe, Arab countries and the CIS,” she said. “The so-called restrictive measures are confined to limiting the freedom of movement. They enjoy three meals a day, medical assistance and the opportunities for exercise to stay in good physical shape.”
Such actions by the United States and its allies in the region, Zakharova believes, are fraught with the re-emergence of the terrorist state in the region.
“In view of President Donald Trump’s announcement of the forthcoming US pullout from Syria there emerge high risks of a Caliphate’s re-emergence in Transeuphratia under the Iraqi type scenario we saw when after the successful withdrawal of the US contingent in 2011 entailed the emergence of the group Islamic State (outlawed in Russia – TASS), she said. “By refraining from criminal prosecution of the mentioned militants the US administration in fact covers up their criminal activity.”
Moscow, Zakharova said, insists on inevitable punishment for the terrorists detained by the United States and the coalition it leads.
“In this context we would like to focus attention on the principle of inevitability of punishment of the detained terrorists for the committed crimes in accordance with the extradite-or-put-on-trial principle,” Zakharova said. “We believe it is utterly impermissible to manipulate with anti-terrorist tasks for using double standards to attain geopolitical aims.”.
The diplomat said the report on the work by experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in Syria’s Douma will be made public in late May.
“The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission continues, at the request of the Syrian authorities, to study all the circumstances at the site [of the alleged attack],” she said. “The samples and other evidence have been delivered to The Hague for laboratory tests, which will take two or three weeks. It will be possible to draw conclusions about the final results of the mission’s work in Douma no sooner than in late May, when the report is made public.”
According to Zakharova, the OPCW mission “worked at the site of the reported incident, and that’s what Russia and Syria demanded all the time, rather than remotely” for the first time since it was established. “We expect that the outcome of the investigation will be the circumstances and professionally verified conclusions, which will help restore the real picture of what happened in Douma on April 7 and confirm that any unsubstantiated accusations against Damascus used as a pretext for illegal military action by the US, the UK and France, a group that violated the UN charter, hold no water.”
“We are determined to continue to seek depoliticized and impartial investigations of all cases of the so-called chemical terrorism in Syria without exception in strict conformity with the high standards of the Chemical Weapons Convention,” the diplomat added.
Eastern Ghouta incident
A number of non-governmental organizations, including the White Helmets, have alleged that chemical weapons had been used in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, on April 7. According to the statement posted on that organization’s website on April 8, chlorine bombs had been dropped on the city killing dozens and poisoning other locals who had to be brought to the hospital. The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed these reports as fake news. The Defense Ministry added that the White Helmets were notorious for spreading falsehoods.
On April 9, officers from the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Sides in Syria visited Douma but found no trace of chemical weapons there.
The inspectors arrived in Damascus on April 14. A few hours before, the US, the UK and France, using reports on the incident as a pretext, carried out a massive strike against Syria. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Syrian air defense units downed 71 of 103 missiles that had been fired, three civilians were wounded.