Moscow:

Charges against Assad based on dubious social media material

News ID: 3958109 -
MOSCOW, Apr. 20 (MNA) – Russian Foreign Ministry said that all charges against the Syrian government over chemical weapons use are unsubstantiated and based on questionable social media materials.

All charges against the Syrian government over chemical weapons use are unsubstantiated and based on questionable social media materials, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in remarks published Thursday.

"We would like to remind you that there is still no clarity regarding the events in Khan Shaykhun. All charges against Damascus are unfounded and based on questionable material on social networks," Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control (DNAC) head Mikhail Uliyanov said at a chemical weapons watchdog session.

On April 4, a chemical weapons incident in Syria's Idlib province claimed the lives of some 80 people and inflicted harm on an additional 200 civilians. The Syrian National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, as well as a number of Western states, accused the Syrian government troops of carrying out the attack, while Damascus refuted these allegations, with a Syrian army source telling Sputnik that the army did not possess chemical weapons.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on April 5 that the airstrike near Khan Shaykhun by the Syrian air force hit a terrorist warehouse that stored chemical weapons slated for delivery to Iraq, and called on the UN Security Council to launch a proper investigation into the incident.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said April 6 that groundless accusations in the chemical weapons incident in Syria's Idlib were unacceptable before the investigation into the matter had been carried out.

However, the incident was used as pretext for a US missile strike against the Ash Sha'irat airbase carried out late on April 6. US President Donald Trump characterized the strike as a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government troops while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was a violation of the international law. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the US missile strike against the Syrian airfield as a strategic mistake.

In an exclusive interview with Fox Business on April 12, US President Donald Trump blamed the current situation in Syria on Moscow's support for country's Assad, calling the Syrian leader "an animal."

Earlier this year, Syrian President Bashar Assad said that the country’s government had never used weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, against the Syrian people. Besides, under a Russian-US deal after the east Ghouta sarin gas incident in 2013, Damascus joined the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and agreed to destroy its stockpile under Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) oversight. In January 2016, the OPCW announced that all chemical weapons in Syria had been destroyed.

SPUTNIK/MNA

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