DAMASCUS (Dispatches) – Russia’s permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has dismissed as ‘absurd’ claims made at the last OPCW meeting charging Syria with using chemical weapons in Saraqib ‘in retaliation for’ the downing of a Russian airplane.
“During the last session of the executive council [of the OPCW], the Investigation and Identification Team presented its latest portion of its ‘work’, this time on the incident in Syrian Saraqib in 2018. The accusations against Damascus did not come as a surprise to anyone,” Alexander Shulgin told Sputnik.
According to the official, the session of the OPCW held in The Hague July 6-9 included claims that the Syrian Air Force dropped chlorine on Saraqeb in 2018 response to the downing of a Russian aircraft.
“The absurdity of these claims, like the absurdity of the entire so-called evidence package on which this pseudo-investigation is being built, does not stand up to scrutiny,” Shulgin added.
In February 2018, a Russian Aerospace Forces Su-25SM jet was shot down by Al-Nusra militants operating an anti-aircraft missile system in Idlib, northwest Syria. The jet’s pilot ejected from the plane before it crashed, but landed in terrorist-occupied territory. Surrounded by militants the pilot blew himself up with a grenade. The incident was caught on camera and went viral. Russia and Syria responded with intense air and Kailbr missile strikes on militant positions in the area.
In a report published in April 2021, the OPCW announced it had “good reason” to suspect that the Syrian Air Force dropped a chlorine bomb on Saraqib a day after the pilot was shot down, with 12 people reportedly injured in the incident. Moscow blasted the report, stating no factual evidence had been provided, and that similar claims of Syrian government chemical attacks had been refuted repeatedly in the past.
‘OPCW Mere Puppet
Meanwhile, the former British ambassador to Syria has told Press TV that it is a “tragedy” that the OPCW has been “corrupted” in a way that it is being used as a “puppet” by the West to exert pressure on Syria rather than being an international and technical monitoring organization.
Peter Ford, who is also an expert on West Asian affairs, made the comments from Manchester during Press TV’s Spotlight program, which was aired on Friday night.
He said that he was completely in agreement with what the Syrian government has recently reiterated that the global chemical watchdog is no longer a technical organization but a political tool in the hands of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to exert pressure on Damascus.
“Sadly I have to agree one hundred percent with that take on the OPCW. It is a tragedy that a very important international monitoring body should be corrupted in this way by being politicized by Western powers. The OPCW should be playing an impartial role and should be seen to be extremely impartial. But for the last few years, decision after decision, it is shown that it is a puppet of the Western powers,” Ford said.
He added that the UK and the U.S., in particular, were responsible as they have staffed the OPCW with officials from their own administrations.