Russia says it has “irrefutable” evidence that a recent suspected chemical attack in the Damascus suburb town of Douma, which was used as a pretext for missile strikes against Syria, was a “false flag” operation orchestrated by British spy services.
Russia’s Representative at the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Alexander Shulgin made the remarks during a meeting of the organization’s executive council in The Hague on Monday.
“We have not just a ‘high level of confidence,’ as our Western partners uniformly put it; we have irrefutable proof that there was no chemical attack in Douma on April 7,” Shulgin said, describing the incident as a “pre-planned false flag attack by the British security services, which could have also been aided by their allies in Washington.”
The Western countries rushed to blame the Douma incident on the Syrian government, but Damascus strongly rejected the accusation as fabrications meant to halt the advanced made by pro-government forces against terrorists.
Syria has rejected any involvement in the suspected attack. It surrendered its chemical stockpile in 2013 to a mission led by the OPCW and the UN.
On April 14, the US, Britain and France launched a coordinated missile attack against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government’s capability to produce chemicals.
Syrian air defenses shot down a significant number of the more than 100 missiles fired at the country in violation of international law and the UN Charter.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Russian official accused Washington of playing “first fiddle” in the Douma incident based on a “pre-written scenario.”
The alleged chemical attack in Douma was staged by “pseudo-humanitarian NGOs,” which are under the patronage of the Syrian government’s foreign adversaries, he added.
Shulgin also stressed that Russian military specialists had found “not a single piece of evidence” substantiating the Western claims about the Douma incident.
The Syrian government had absolutely no reason to conduct a gas attack on Douma when the city was already almost liberated from the grip of militants, and thus the anti-Damascus accusations look “absurd,” he added.
The Russian official further denounced the tripartite April 14 “military aggression” on Syria, saying “this crime can be by no means justified.”
Washington, London and Paris “are playing the hypocrite as they pretend to be the defenders of the international law. In fact, however, no one except for their allies… has any doubts that the major threat to the world comes from these ‘leaders’ of the Western [political] camp,” he pointed out.
“In fact, if they say they bombed a storehouse with chemical weapons and there are no traces of chemical contamination, that proves the fact that their version of secret chemical stockpiles in hands of the Syrian governmental forces has been obviously made up,” Shulgin said.
He also concluded that the US and its allies are not interested in a real investigation into the alleged Douma gas attack.
Patients have ‘no symptoms of chemical poisoning’
Meanwhile, an intern medic at a Douma hospital stressed that no symptoms of chemical poisoning were found in the patients brought in after the alleged attack.
Marwan Jaber said that following the Douma incident, a group of unidentified people came to the hospital and started to spread panic about a chemical attack.
“Some injured people and unidentified personnel stormed in, spreading message of a chemical attack. People were terrified and a panic was triggered. We diagnosed them, there were no related symptoms,” he said.
OPCW rejects Iran-Russia motion on Douma probe
Additionally on Monday, the OPCW refused to vote for a draft resolution, initiated by Russia and Iran, which called for an investigation into the Douma incident.
Russia says a visit by chemical weapons inspectors to the site of a suspected gas attack in Syria’s Douma has been delayed due to Western airstrikes.
Shulgin denounced the Western countries’ objection to “the consensus document,” saying, “It was funny to see how the representative of the United States was trying to find a single slightest excuse to reject our draft.”
The draft resolution underlined “the necessity of finding all the facts” regarding the Douma incident, called on all OPCW member states to provide proper security conditions for the watchdog’s experts on the ground, and tasked the head of the OPCW’s technical committee with playing an active role in ensuring successful work of the mission.
‘Farcical failed play’
Separately, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the OPCW Bassam Sabbagh said that “the barbarous US-British-French aggression,” which coincided with the arrival of a fact-finding team over the Douma incident, was “aimed at hindering the work of the mission and forestalling the results of the investigations.”
He further stressed that the tripartite aggression on Syria was “a farcical failed play which was staged in service for their agendas.”
The Syrian official also asked what US troops are doing illegally in Syria and why the US is sending weapons to terrorist groups operating there.
Iran envoy: Syria strike ‘a crime’
Meanwhile, Iran’s envoy to the OPCW Alireza Jahangiri said that Western states’ objection to the Iran-Russia draft resolution “brings more disgrace to them.”
The “unilateral” attack on Syria “has weakened international peace and security and will lead to instability and the spread of extremism as well as terrorism in the world,” he noted.
“The military aggression against Syria without any reasonable evidence and based on fake sources is a crime, whose perpetrators should be held accountable in courts,” Jahangiri said.
OPCW team visits Douma on Wednesday
Igor Kirillov, head of Russia’s Radiological, Biological and Chemical Protection Unit, said OPCW experts had arrived in the Syrian capital and would visit Douma on April 18.
Speaking at a press conference at the Russian Embassy in The Hague, he said the Douma roads should still be de-mined and cleared and tested by UN security services.
“Wednesday is when we plan the arrival of the OPCW experts,” in Douma, he added.