Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations has dismissed as flawed the findings of a UN-mandated investigation blaming Syrian forces for the use of chemical weapons, saying the report is based on “false testimonies.”
In an interview with Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV, Bashar al-Ja’afari said the allegations against Syrian soldiers have been “fabricated” to put pressure on the government in Damascus.
He said the UN Security Council and the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have yet to publish their final findings on the use of banned arms in Syria, adding that Damascus would present its own observations and notes to the world body before the joint report is out.
Last week, a report carried out by the Joint Investigative Mechanism of the UN and the OPCW claimed that Syrian forces had used chlorine in two separate attacks against militants fighting the Syrian government in 2014 and 2015.
The investigation was launched based on the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2235, which called for determining which party used chemical arms in Syria.
Syria rejected the allegations, with Ja’afari saying on Tuesday that the conclusions of the report “lack any physical evidence, whether by samples or attested medical reports that chlorine was used.”
The Syrian diplomat also said the report was “totally based on witnesses presented by terrorist armed groups.”
Russia, which has been backing the Syrian government in its war against the terrorists, also cast doubt on the report.
Moscow’s Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said he had “very serious questions” over the investigation’s findings and suggested the panel should gather more information.
“There are a number of questions which have to be clarified before we accept all the findings of the report,” Churkin said, while slamming calls on the UNSC by France and the United Kingdom for imposing sanctions on the perpetrators of the alleged chemical attacks.
“There is nobody to sanction in the report… It contains no names, no specifics, no fingerprints,” said the Russian diplomat, adding, “Clearly there is a smoking gun. We know that chlorine was most likely used, but there are no fingerprints on the gun.”
Syria was once accused of using chemicals against civilians and militants in an attack outside Damascus nearly four years ago.
The Damascus government rejected the allegations, but accepted to hand over its stockpiles of chemical weapons to the OPCW-UN joint mission in 2013 when it signed the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention under a deal brokered by Russia and the US.