Russia says undeniable proof shows Douma chemical incident was staged

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THE HAGUE, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Undeniable evidence shows that the so-called chemical attack in Douma near the capital Damascus last year was staged and the investigation by the chemical weapons watchdog OPCW's fact-finding mission (FFM) has numerous gaps, inconsistency and discrepancy, reiterated the Russian authorities in The Hague on Friday.

Russia's representative to the OPCW, Alexander Shulgin, his Syrian counterpart Bassam Sabbagh, together with Russian experts, made these remarks at a press conference on the sidewalk of the 91st session of the OPCW Executive Council.

Citing engineering assessment, recent interviews with local residents and investigation by western reporters and researchers, the Russian officials told the press that "the so-called chemical attack in Douma on April 7, 2018 was no more than a false flag".

In video showed by Director of the Moscow-based Foundation for Study of Democracy Maxim Grigoriev, several Douma residents living permanently in those allegedly hit buildings said that there was no chemical attack on that day.

"Why didn't the FFM experts ask these people? " questioned Schulgin. "This was not needed perhaps because they pursue different goals."

In its final report issued in March, the OPCW did not assign blame but said the information gathered by the FFM provide reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken place. "The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine."

The pseudo-humanistic organization "White Helmets", which exposed the so-called attack by publishing a video of victims and rescuing personal in Douma hospital on that day, actively contributed to and took part in staging chemical attacks in Syria, said the Russian officials.

As to an earlier OPCW report suggesting that the chemical used in Douma could be delivered by cylinders dropped from the air, the Russian officials presented an engineering assessment saying that it is more likely that the cylinders in question had been "manually placed" in the spot where they were found.

If they were dropped from the air, it would imply that the Syrian authorities could be responsible since rebels in Syria had no aircraft.

"If they are not [dropped from the air], you reverse the whole situation," said Schulgin. "We have to reopen investigation."

Seen by the Russia diplomat, the OPCW is in deep crisis since its politicization started long ago. "There is a need of fundamental change aimed at creating different production of its work."

The Syria's representative to OPCW also called on the organization to "reconsider its position, reevaluate its investigation and clarify the truth."

The alleged chemical attack in Douma prompted air raids against the Syrian government by Britain, France, and the United States. The military operation has been widely criticized for prejudgment before the investigators reach a conclusion on if there was a chemical attack or who should be responsible for it. Enditem

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