US accuses Russia of helping Assad regime cover up chemical weapons use
Orient Net | 2019-11-28 17:28 Damascuss
Douma, Syria, Sunday, April 8, 2018. Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets / via AP
The United States on Thursday (November 28) accused Russia of helping Assad regime conceal the use of banned toxic munitions in the war by undermining the work of the global chemical weapons agency trying to identify those responsible.
The comments by the US representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Kenneth Ward, drew a rapid denial from Moscow and came as Western powers and Russia clashed at the agency’s annual conference in The Hague.
Moscow has for months cited dissent by two former OPCW employees who leaked a document and an email as evidence that the OPCW doctored the conclusions of a March 1 report which found that a toxic chemical containing chlorine was used in a 2018 attack near Damascus.
More than 40 people were killed in that attack in Douma, a town on the outskirts of the capital then held by rebels, on April 7, 2018.
The United States, Britain and France retaliated a week later by firing missiles at Assad regime targets, the biggest Western military action against the Damascus authorities of the eight-year-old war.
The OPCW’s own Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), which was established by a clear majority vote by its member states in June 2018, is looking into who was responsible for the Douma attack, among several other incidents.
Its first report is expected next year.
Ward said Russia and Assad regime were merely seeking to cover up the use of chemical weapons by undermining the OPCW.
“Unfortunately, the Russian Federation has played a central role in this cover-up,” Ward told delegates. Russia and Assad regime may sit with us here, but they stand apart from us in a fundamental way. They continue to embrace chemical weapons.
Based on Reuters