Russia is alarmed that the Technical Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) drags on investigation into a chemical incident in Aleppo, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.
“We are rather alarmed that regardless of Syria’s repeated official requests, the OPCW Technical Secretariat has not deployed its special mission to investigate the chemical weapons incident in Aleppo on November 24,” she said.
The diplomat pointed out that nearly a month has gone by since the incident, but the situation has not changed.
“Time is passing, so it will be more and more difficult [for the mission] to collect physical evidence at the site with regard to the volatility of chlorine, which was stuffed in the homemade chemical bombs used by militants to shell Aleppo’s districts,” Zakharova said. “The chances are diminishing each day to detect residues of that substance.
“There is a situation when on the one hand, evidence that the crime was committed by militants has already been presented by Syrian officials, but on the other hand, we can hear from high-ranking officials in lots of Western countries that the November 24 incident in Aleppo was organized by Damascus, and what is more, allegedly with Russia’s participation,” Zakharova continued.
“It proves once more that the most thorough and comprehensive probe must be carried out immediately, and right at the scene of the chemical incident, but not remotely as it is often done,” she stressed.
“One cannot help but have an impression that the probe [into the Aleppo incident] is being deliberately protracted by the OPCW Technical Secretariat, which is a deviation from its duties,” she said.
“There is a question if this is being done to appease the Western troika (the United States, the United Kingdom and France – TASS) which pursue their narrow geopolitical interests in Syria and which, prior to the investigation, had used military force more than once against that state, a member of the United Nations and the OPCW,” the diplomat said. “We proceed from the fact that a delay in deployment of the mission to Aleppo contradicts both the Chemical Weapons Convention requirements and common sense.”
On November 24, militants operating in the Idlib de-escalation zone fired projectiles stuffed with a toxic agent, presumably chlorine, into Aleppo’s residential areas. After the attack, more than 70 civilians were admitted to hospitals, according to Syrian doctors. The SANA news agency reported about 107 hospitalized civilians.
Russia’s air strikes destroyed the terrorists who had shelled the city. Russia’s Foreign Ministry dismissed as absurd the allegations against Moscow, made by US officials after the incident.