The Director General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said on April 13 that an allegation of the use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhun in Syria on April 4 is credible.
Speaking at a meeting of the Executive Council in The Hague, Ahmet Üzümcü shared the preliminary assessment by experts from the OPCW’s Technical Secretariat on allegations of a chemical weapons attack in Idlib.
The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission has collected samples which have been sent to designated laboratories for analysis. OPCW experts are also analysing information from other sources.
It is expected that the Fact-Finding Mission will complete its work within three weeks.
At the meeting, the British delegation said that tests by UK scientists on samples from Khan Sheikhun “have tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, or a sarin-like substance.”
More than 80 people were killed and hundreds of others injured in Khan Sheikhun.
Assad says reports were fabricated
Meanwhile, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad said that reports of a chemical weapons attack were “fabricated” and that “there was no order to make any attack.”
Speaking to AFP, Assad claimed it was “not clear whether it happened or not, because how can you verify a video? You have a lot of fake videos now.”
“We don’t know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhun. Were they dead at all? Who committed the attack if there was an attack?”
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad
“Our impression is that the west, mainly the United States, is hand-in-glove with the terrorists. They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack,” Assad said, referring to the April 7 Tomahawk cruise missile attack on al-Shayrat airbase ordered by US President Donald J Trump.
Assad further claimed that the Syrian government has never used chemical weapons.
“We don’t have any chemical weapons, we gave up our arsenal a few years ago,” he said. “Even if we have them, we wouldn’t use them and we have never used our chemical arsenal in our history.”
Russia, Assad’s strongest ally, has not denied that people in Khan Sheikhun were killed by chemical weapons. Moscow instead claims that the gas was released after Syrian government airstrikes hit a rebel weapons warehouse.
On April 12, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution demanding Syria cooperate with a UN inquiry into the attack. Bolivia also voted against while China, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan abstained.
Assad told AFP he would “only allow any investigation when it’s impartial, when we make sure that unbiased countries will participate in this delegation in order to make sure that they won’t use it for politicised purposes.”
— Majd khalaf (@majdkhalaf1993) April 5, 2017