‘Sacrificing civilians for political gain is cheap’ – Russia slams terrorists over alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria

Syrian troops celebrate victory over terrorists in the Hama district
Syrian troops celebrate victory over terrorists in the Hama district

RUSSIA has submitted its draft resolution to the UN Security Council about the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun on Tuesday, Fedor Strzhizhovsky, press secretary of Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, told reporters on Wednesday.

At the emergency meeting convened by the UN Security Council earlier on Wednesday, Russia criticised the West-drafted resolution ‘evidently drawn up in a hurry and extremely negligently,’ he said. ‘Instead, we submitted our short draft resolution, drawn up in a businesslike manner and aimed at conducting a true investigation rather than to appoint the guilty ones until the facts are established,’ Strzhizhovsky said.

At the UNSC meeting, Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov proposed to reduce the substantive provisions of the resolution to one paragraph containing an appeal to the OPCW mission to ‘fully investigate the reports about the incident on the ground under the mandatory condition that the list of investigators will be submitted to the UN for approval and will be geographically balanced as well.

‘A demand should be added here that the illegal armed groups controlling the area of the incident should ensure full and unhindered access to the area and to the required information for investigators.’

The US, UK and France submitted their draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council’s emergency meeting held on Wednesday. The resolution was drafted following an alleged air strike in the town of Khan Shaykhun by Syrian government warplanes in a suspected gas attack. The draft resolution demands that the Damascus government cooperate with the international team of investigators. It also threatens the country with sanctions in case of non-compliance.

The resolution condemns the ‘use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, in particular the attack on Khan Shaykhun reported on 4 April 2017’ and expresses full support to an investigation by the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) of the UN and the OPCW.

The resolution also calls on the Syrian government to cooperate fully with the international investigators, including by providing them with ‘flight plans, flight logs, and any other information on air operations, including all flight plans or flight logs filed on April 4 2017.’

Syrian Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Fayssal Mikdad stressed that a few weeks ago, the Syrian government provided the OPCW with information on the transport of toxic substances into Syria by the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organisation, affirming that Syria stands against using chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, and under any circumstances.

Interviewed by al-Mayadeen TV on Tuesday, Mikdad indicated that over the past few weeks, the Syrian government has provided the OPCW and the UN with documented reports on transporting toxic substances into Syria and storing them to do such an act by the terrorist organisations, including Jabhat al-Nusra, pointing out that these documents were obtained by the OPCW and the UN Security Council.

He asserted that the Syrian Arab Army doesn’t possess chemical weapons and that it has never used such weapons even in the fiercest battles with the terrorist groups, clarifying that Syria has implemented all of its obligations towards the OPCW and the organisation has admitted that.

The Deputy Minister reiterated that terrorist organisations using chemical weapons on Syrian territories aim at achieving cheap political gain and justifying their failure in the talks of Astana and Geneva.

‘Sacrificing the lives of the Syrian civilians in this way to achieve political goals is a cheap policy,’ Mikdad said, referring in this regard to the statement of the head of the Turkish regime Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which he shed crocodile tears for the fate of the Syrian people although he is responsible for the death of tens of thousands of Syrians.

‘We are witnessing one of the attacks which have been repeated over the past few weeks and months,’ he went on to say, indicating that the victory of Aleppo and the advances achieved by the Syrian Arab Army in the surroundings of Damascus and Hama are the reason behind this attack.

He called upon the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to be reasonable and to practice the role of honest mediator, and not to stand by terrorism, adding that the terrorist groups and their backers in Britain, France, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia are the ones who committed this crime.

Mikdad called upon the international community to prosecute the parties who committed this crime, considering that the discussions of the Brussels Conference which were held on Wednesday would be for fabricating charges against Syria.

‘The terrorist groups and the so-called Syrian oppositions have failed to be in line with the plans and goals of the process of restoring security and stability to Syria, and therefore all these parties are launching today an unjust systematic campaign against Syria,’ he said.

‘We strongly condemn these attacks against our people by the terrorist organisations and their backers, particularly the Turkish and Saudi regimes,’ Mikdad said, pointing out that these two regimes do not hesitate to use any weapon in their attempts to undermine the will of the Syrian people and to fabricate accusations against the Syrian government.

Syria categorically denies using any poisonous gases in Khan Sheikhoun or in any other city or village, affirming that the Syrian Arab army doesn’t possess any form of the chemical weapons. The Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said that the chorus of the armed terrorist groups which are active in Khan Sheikhoun, and the western and regional sides which support them and their affiliated media, have circulated news about an attack with poisonous gases on Khan Sheikhoun city in Idlib province.

‘As usual and for four years, those sides have fabricated fake accusations against the armed forces in the Syrian Arab Republic,’ the statement said. It added that Syria affirms it has carried out all its obligations towards the Chemical Weapons Convention (OPCW) since it joined the treaty in 2013.

‘That new campaign comes after the achievements gained by the Syrian Arab army and the backing forces in the war against terrorism during the last days and weeks, in addition, those fabrications come prior to the convening of an EU meeting tomorrow about Syria in order to launch an attack on the country and justify the hostile resolutions that will be adopted in this meeting,’ the Foreign Ministry said.

It added that Syria reiterates its condemnation of the crime perpetrated by the armed terrorist organisations in Khan Sheikhoun which would be included in the framework of the base political profit at the expense of the spirits of the Syrian women and children, affirming that it rejects the use of those poisonous materials by any side or in any place under any condition.

‘The Syrian Arab republic stresses that all those fabricated allegations will not prevent it from continuing its war on terrorism, their supporters and sponsors in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and some of the EU countries, and from working for a political solution to the crisis in Syria, the Foreign Ministry said, calling on the international community to back its efforts in combating terrorism.

Moscow will continue to support Syrian Army troops in their anti-terrorism effort, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, after being asked whether Russian policy had changed following the reported chemical attack in the Idlib province. Peskov cited the opinion of the Russian military, which said the contamination may have been caused by damage to a rebel chemical weapons storage site.