As they blast weapons watchdog for not inspecting to the site of the attack
Chris Pleasance — Daily Mail April 14, 2017
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking at a press conference with his counterparts from Iran and Syria, said publications in the UK and US have highlighted ‘many inconsistencies’ in official versions of events.
Lavrov also attacked the chemical weapons watchdog for failing to send experts to Khan Sheikhoun, the village hit by the gas, to investigate.
‘We consider it unacceptable to analyse events from a distance,’ he said.
Lavrov said Assad’s opponents had ‘in essence’ given guarantees for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to visit the location where at least 87 people died, but the watchdog was refusing to go.
‘They say still that it is not very safe, but they cannot put forward convincing arguments,’ Russia’s top diplomat said.
Russia has rejected accusations from the West that its Assad’s forces were responsible for a chemical attack and has lashed out at the US for its cruise missile strikes last week against a Syrian air base.
The OPCW said Thursday that a fact-finding mission was analysing samples gathered from ‘various sources’ and that allegations a chemical attack took place in the Syrian rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun were ‘credible’.
Lavrov said Russia, Iran and Syria have demanded a ‘thorough, objective and unbiased investigation’ under the auspices of the OPCW, insisting it must use ‘independent experts’, including from Moscow.
Russia on Wednesday vetoed a Western-backed UN resolution demanding that the Syrian government cooperate with an investigation into the alleged attack, blocking Security Council action against Moscow’s ally for the eighth time
Russia and Iran are the firmest allies of Assad’s regime and have deployed forces to the war-torn country to back him in the country’s brutal six-year conflict.
Lavrov was meeting with his counterparts from Syria and Iran in a show of support for Damascus after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Moscow earlier this week.
Lavrov repeated the Kremlin’s condemnation of the US missile strike in Syria and said Washington was seeking ‘excuses for regime change’.
‘These attempts will not succeed, this will not happen,’ he said.
His comments come after Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, spoke out for the first time since the gas attack on Wednesday, when he also accused it of being faked.
Assad said reports of the attack were ‘100 per cent a fabrication’ and questioned whether children featured in footage distributed online were really dead.
He insisted it was ‘not clear whether it happened or not, because how can you verify a video? You have a lot of fake videos now.’
Russia has staunchly defended its Middle Eastern ally throughout the civil war there, blocking attempts to remove Assad and throwing their weight of confidence behind statements he has made.