Announcing the early Saturday morning missile strikes, the American-British-French coalition asserted that their forces were targeting compounds associated with Syria’s alleged chemical weapons stockpiles. Now, after the dust settled, serious questions arise about the actual presence of any hazardous substances at these sites, including the bombed-out scientific facility in the Barzeh district in northern Damascus.
“This scientific research center has been inspected for several times by experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW], moreover, a decision was taken to carry out such inspections twice a year,” Anton Utkin, a Russian chemical weapons expert and former UN inspector in Iraq, told RT.
“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,” Russia’s Ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons Aleksandr Shulgin said at a special meeting of the UN chemical watchdog’s executive council. The diplomat added that the incident had been a “pre-planned false-flag attack by the British security services, which could have also been aided by their allies in Washington.”
“Things unfolded according to the pre-written scenario prepared by Washington. There’s no doubt, the Americans play ‘first fiddle’ in all of this,” Shulgin said, adding that “attack” was staged by “pseudo-humanitarian NGOs,” which are under the patronage of the Syrian government’s foreign adversaries.
Russian radiological, chemical and biological-warfare units carefully examined the scene of the alleged attack mentioned in the NGOs’ reports immediately after the liberation of Douma from the militant groups, Shulgin said. He then drew attention to the fact that the Russian military specialists found “not a single piece of evidence” substantiating the claims about the alleged chemical attack. Instead, they found local witnesses who said that the video allegedly showing the aftermath of the perceived attack was in fact staged.
The timing of the attack was also bewildering, the Russian diplomat said, adding that the Syrian government had absolutely no reason to gas its own citizens when the city was already almost liberated from the militants. Under such circumstances, the accusations against Damascus look “absurd,” he said. “The senselessness of these claims is striking,” Shulgin added, referring to the statements of Western leaders.
The US and its allies are not interested in a real investigation into the alleged Douma attack, the Russian envoy to the OPCW said. Washington, London and Paris immediately pinned the blame for the incident on Damascus, and launched strikes against Syrian military and civilian facilities without waiting for the OPCW team even to start its investigation on the ground.
Washington and its allies launched a missile strike targeting Syrian military and civilian facilities on Saturday, in retaliation for the alleged “chemical attack” in Douma. Russia denounced the strikes, calling them “hooliganism” in international relations and “an aggression against a sovereign state.”
Meanwhile, the OPCW investigators are expected to start their work in Douma on Monday. They met with Syrian officials on Sunday to discuss the details of their work. Damascus says it hopes that the experts will “stay neutral and not yield to pressure.” The OPCW team plans to finish its work on Wednesday and present its preliminary report to the UN before its departure from Damascus, local media report.