Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has said the blocking of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) from investigating alleged chemical weapon use in Syria’s Khan Sheikhoun by western delegations is aimed at regime change.
Speaking at a joint meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday, Lavrov said, “Yesterday, our joint proposal that OPCW experts visit the sites of the suspected chemical weapon use incident in Syria was blocked by western delegations without coherent explanations. This showed the complete incompetence of the positions of our western colleagues who basically prohibit the OPCW from sending their experts to the site of the incident, to the air base from where aircraft loaded with chemical weapons allegedly flew out.”
The foreign minister also added that the “false information on the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is being used to move away from the implementation of resolution 2254 which stipulates a political settlement with the participation of all the Syrian parties and to switch to the long-cherished idea of regime change,” Sputnik reported.
At least 87 people were killed on 4 April in Idlib’s Khan Sheikhoun town in northwestern Syria in an attack in which chemical weapons were likely used. The Syrian opposition and western states have blamed the Bashar al-Assad government for the attack, however the government has denied responsibility.
The OPCW on Wednesday said laboratory tests carried out in Turkey on samples from ten victims showed “incontrovertible” evidence that sarin or a sarin-like chemical substance had been used in the attack.
The organisation’s chief, Ahmet Uzumcu, said a fact-finding mission (FFM) is ready to visit the town if the security situation permitted.
The #OPCW Executive Council has overwhelmingly rejected the Russian and Iranian decision which attempted to undercut the FFM
— UK Delegation OPCW (@UK_OPCW) April 20, 2017
Both Russia, Iran and Syria and western states, as well as Turkey have been accused by commentators of using the use of chemical weapons to strengthen their political and military positions in the Syrian conflict.