On Thursday Russia attacked a report from the UN and the chemical weapons watchdog the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW,) which blames the Syrian government for a deadly attack in April. Moscow says the report is superficial and unprofessional. The gas attack at Khan Shaykhun in Idlib province killed at least 70 people and injured hundreds more. Damascus denies carrying it out.
Russian defense ministry experts have now presented their findings. Its aviation specialists said Syrian SU-22 fighter jets could not have delivered the toxic weapon, because their flight paths, recorded by the coalition, did not come within range of Khan Shaykhun. Russia also says the traces left by the explosion, and the lack of fragments, suggest the bomb was placed on the ground.
— RT (@RT_com) November 3, 2017
Despite criticizing the joint UN chemical watchdog mechanism, Russia’s foreign ministry says it’s all for renewing its mandate. On Thursday, Russia submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council to extend the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), investigating chemical incidents in Syria, reported TSS, citing a UN source. It seeks to extend the mandate until May 16, 2018,
In October, Russia blocked a Security Council resolution to prolong the mandate, urging the international community to evaluate the results of the mechanism’s work first.
According to military analyst Kamal Alam, “some very valid points” are made by the Russian defense ministry on the incident in Idlib province.
“There’s definitely a very political agenda here without looking at the expert analysis. No one has gone on the ground to look at it. It’s been done from far away – thousands of miles away, and in a neighboring country, which is more or less compromised given its stance against the Syrian government. There seems to be very political vested interest, rather than carrying out a proper investigation,” he told RT.
— RT (@RT_com) November 1, 2017
Alam agrees the investigators should be looking at all kinds of possibilities of how this attack occurred and where it may have come from, rather than just one specific avenue. “Especially given the history of what’s been going on in the region,” he added.
“The international community, particularly the US, became very sure, who had done it within a few minutes of the attack. So it is almost impossible to then say that this was an objective finding,” Alam said.
While Russia “is saying – there should be a proper rule of law applied, and no one should jump to conclusion,” he said, “the other international community, unfortunately, decided to be the judge, jury and the executioner at the same time – which is not a very balanced way of looking at it, especially when you did not have experts on the ground examining.”
“The Russians were saying that there should be a joint committee to go there and check things out – rather than doing it in a neighboring country or thousands of miles away,” he added.
Nicolas Davies, the author of Blood on our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq, says the Russian findings are more convincing “than what the US has said all along to justify its assault on the Shayrat Airbase.”
He also said the OPCW report lacks any investigation at the possibility of a staged incident. “This is strange because in 2014 the OPCW did investigate an alleged chemical weapons incident in Syria, which did turn out to be staged,” he told RT.
“Then of course… the 2013 incident, Ghouta, where there was very, very serious evidence that this was, in fact, a staged chemical weapons incident. So I have to say I find the Russian position on this to be a lot more convincing, than what the OPCW, even Human Rights Watch (HRW,) or Western journalists have reported on this,” Davies added.