Chemical weapon production facilities have been discovered in the areas liberated from militants in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry says.
More than 40 tons of chemical weapons were abandoned by retreating militants in the war-ravaged country, the ministry said on Wednesday. “The Syrian Foreign Ministry pointed out that more than 40 tons of poisonous substances were found on the territories, liberated from terrorists,” Igor Kirillov, the commander of Russia’s Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection Forces, said on Wednesday.
The official was speaking at a press conference in Moscow concerning the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal. London and some of its Western allies blame the incident on Moscow, saying it has used a Russian-made nerve agent.
Kirillov said the West won’t back off and is prepared to use any means necessary to discredit Russia. The official recalled the example of Syria’s Khan Shaykhun.
The commander also criticized the international bodies for their refusal to work with Damascus in investigating the alleged chemical attacks in the country.
In late February, the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria said it had obtained information that militants in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta had been “preparing a provocation with the use of poisonous substances in order to blame the government forces of using chemical weapons against civilians.”
The release of this data “has foiled the plans of the US-led coalition to strike key Syrian military targets in order to change the balance of power in favor of the so-called ‘moderate opposition,” he said.
“The shift in focus of the 87th session of the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) Executive Council from the Syrian chemical dossier to the unsubstantiated accusations against Russia over the chemical attack in Salisbury and the violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention only confirms the conclusion that the coalition’s goals have been thwarted,” Kirillov noted.
The alleged chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib Governorate took place on April 4, 2017 in an area controlled by Al-Nusra Front terrorist group. Up to 100 civilians were said to have been killed by sarin gas, released in an airstrike by Syrian government forces. Washington immediately rushed to blame Damascus for the attack and fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat Airbase, claiming it was the very compound from which jets allegedly armed with the chemical took off.
Syria, which was confirmed to have destroyed its sarin stockpiles under a deal brokered between Russia and the US in 2013, has denied the American accusations. Russia also pointed out that thorough impartial investigation of the incident never took place, with OPCW experts refusing to visit Khan Shaykhun. It has argued that the attack could have been staged.
* * *