US berates Syria at OPCW meeting on Syria chemical attack

15 April, 2017, 12:01 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • US lays out case for Assad's culpability in chemical weapons attack

The head of the global body that investigates responsibility for reports of chemical weapons use in Syria is taking a new job as the United Nations grapples with responding to another alleged poison attack.

A handout picture released by the Syrian presidency's press office shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) during an interview with AFP in the capital Damascus, on April 12, 2017.

Russian Federation has called for a thorough investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) of the allegations of chemical weapons use in Khan Sheikhun. Although the official said the U.S.is now sure that Russia was the one controlling the drone, the controller of the aircraft that targeted the hospital is still unclear because Syrians also use Russian-made jets. On Wednesday, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to condemn the Idlib attack and push the Syrian government to cooperate with investigators.

Assad said the incident could not be taken seriously because the source of the information, he claimed, was al-Qaeda's former affiliate in Syria, Nusra Front.

The U.S. and others blame him for what they believe was a deliberate attack earlier this month that killed more than 100 civilians.

And while the USA move has been largely welcomed by Western governments, those in the town are unconvinced anything has changed. "Our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand-in-glove with the terrorists", the syrian president said, adding that they fabricated the whole story "in order to have a pretext for the attack". Syria "continues to possess and use chemical weapons".

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He said his forces had not been diminished by the USA strike.

Turkey and the U.K. Ministry of Defense conducted tests to determine the gas used in the attack was sarin.

Britain's delegation to the OPCW tweeted from the executive session that the "Fact Finding Mission is working to gather evidence" and has already started testing samples in a lab. The organization has not revealed any details, citing the need to preserve the integrity of the probe and the safety of OPCW staff.

The strains in ties were clear as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson received a frosty reception on Wednesday on a visit to Moscow, where he said there was now "a low level of trust" between the two countries.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that OPCW inspectors should visit both the Syrian air base, which the US said served as a platform for the attack, and Khan Sheikhoun to get a full and objective picture.

"We gave up our arsenal three years ago", he said.

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