Lavrov: Russian, Western Experts Should Make Up Syria Chemical Attack Probe Team
MOSCOW – Lavrov told reporters he “sufficiently convincingly” explained to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday the reasons why a special independent UN and OPCW-based study should investigate the purported attack.
“But, considering the enormous very confrontational resonance surrounding what happened in Syria, we offered to complement these structures with professional inspectors in this field who would be invited from both Western countries, Russia, and regional countries,” Lavrov said.
He said “it seemed to me that Tillerson quite positively reacted to this idea.” Western countries’ reluctance to send experts to the site of a reported April 4 chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province rely on “excuses” of purported dangers, he said.
Lavrov told a briefing that US, French and UK colleagues “do not pay attention to the fact that they need to visit not only the airfield they suspect was the place where chemical weapons were loaded onto planes, but also the place where these shells were struck.”
“They said ‘we do not know who controls this area, it is not safe to send inspectors there.’ These are all excuses,” he stressed.
Syrian opposition claimed on April 4 forces loyal to President Bashar Assad had used a chemical gas on people in the northwestern province, killing nearly 80 and injuring 200. Assad argued his government has no chemical weapons after agreeing to have them destroyed in 2013. He also ruled out having used chemicals against own people.
The Russian Defense Ministry said next day that the airstrike near Khan Shaykhun was carried out by Syrian aircraft, which struck a terrorist warehouse that stored chemical weapons slated for delivery to Iraq.