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Russian-Iranian Bid for New Chemical Probe Rejected | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Exterior view of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) headquarters in The Hague in this file picture taken on October 11, 2013. (Reuters)

The Hague- The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) rejected on Thursday, through a voting process, a Russian-Iranian proposal to form a new team to investigate the purported chemical attack against Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on April 4.

The British delegation to the Organization said on its Twitter account: “The #OPCW Executive Council has overwhelmingly rejected the Russian and Iranian decision which attempted to undercut the FFM”, referring to the fact-finding mission.

The draft-resolution, which was submitted by Moscow and Tehran, and obtained by AFP, had called for a new investigation by OPCW “to establish whether chemical weapons were used in Khan Sheikhoun and how they were delivered to the site of the reported incident.”

The draft-resolution, however, overlooked the fact that the international body, based in The Hague, was already investigating the April 4 attack on Idlib province, which claimed the lives of 87 people, including many children.

It also called for investigators to visit the Shayrat airbase — bombed by the United States after the attack — to “verify allegations concerning the storage of chemical weapons” there.

The British delegation said on Twitter that the Russian move had “attempted to undercut” the OPCW’s existing fact-finding mission (FFM).”

“Needless to say – FFM investigation continues” and “the UK fully supports it,” it added.

Meanwhile, Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesperson Igor Konashenkov doubted the investigation, saying that western experts could not explain “how representatives of the White Helmets managed to work for such a long period of time and remain alive without gasmasks and special protection equipment.”

On Wednesday, OPCW said that sarin or a similar banned toxin was used in an attack in Idlib.

Reuters quoted the organization’s director, General Ahmet Uzumcu as saying that the results of the analysis “indicate that sarin or a sarin like substance was used”.

The finding was based on tests on bio-medical samples collected from three victims during their autopsies that were analyzed at two OPCW-designated laboratories, the OPCW said, according to Reuters.