Watchdog rejects Russian bid for new Syria chemical probe
Contested: OPCW already investigating the attack which left 87 people dead
The Hague: The global chemical arms watchdog on Thursday “overwhelmingly” rejected a Russian-Iranian move to launch a new investigation into a suspected chemical attack in Syria, delegates said, backing the probe already under way.
“The #OPCW executive council has overwhelmingly rejected the Russian and Iranian decision,” the British delegation to the watchdog said in a Tweet.
A draft decision put forward by Moscow and Tehran had called for a new investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) “to establish whether chemical weapons were used in Khan Sheikhun and how they were delivered to the site of the reported incident”. But it ignored that the body, based in The Hague, is already investigating the April 4 attack on the rebel-held town in Idlib province which left 87 dead, including many children.
The draft had also called for investigators to visit the Shayrat airbase — bombed by the United States after the attack — to “verify allegations concerning the storage of chemical weapons” there.
But the Russian move had “attempted to undercut” the OPCW’s existing fact-finding mission (FFM), the British delegation said in its tweet.
#OPCW FFM investigation continues” and “the UK fully supports it,” it added.
The move came as OPCW head Ahmet Uzumcu said on Wednesday that “incontrovertible” OPCW test results had shown sarin gas or a similar substance were used in the attack. — Agencies