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OPCW report on Syria chemical attacks one-sided, biased: Iran

Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, gives a press conference in the capital Tehran on May 28, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has denounced as “one-sided” a recent report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) about a series of suspected gas attacks in Syria’s western region of Hama in 2017.

Seyyed Abbas Mousavi, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on Monday that the initial report published by the OPCW’s team on the use of chemical weapons in Syria was “biased, one-sided, non-independent, and outside the jurisdiction and scope” of the Hague-based organization.

In an 82-page report earlier this month, the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) claimed Syrian government forces had been responsible for the alleged chemical attacks on the militant-held town of Lataminah in Hama province during the last week of March 2017.

It alleged that in a span of one week, Syrian fighter jets had twice dropped bombs containing sarin nerve agent on the village and a helicopter had targeted its hospital with a cylinder containing chlorine, affecting scores of people.

According to the report, the team had based its investigation on a range of evidence, including witness testimonies, videos, forensic reports on recovered munitions scraps, medical records and satellite imagery.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran, as the biggest victim of chemical weapons in the contemporary period, condemns the use of chemical weapons by anyone at any place and time and under any circumstances,” Mousavi said.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman added that the OPCW’s report on Syria and the type of reasoning and conclusion it provides indicated that the report was prepared and compiled under external pressure, and the sources used in the report had, to some extent, been provided by some terrorist groups and so-called humanitarian organizations, such as the White Helmets.

Stressing that Iran is deeply concerned about the stigmatization of the OPCW’s independence and legal personality as a specialized organization with a technical nature, Mousavi said the county disagrees with the formation of an investigation team by OPCW and views this issue as contrary to the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and in contradiction with the UN Security Council's exclusive mandate to maintain international peace and security.

While appreciating the Syrian government's constructive cooperation with the OPCW, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman underlined that, “The time has come for Syria's chemical case to be handled away from politicization, political pressures, and falsified and biased mechanisms."

The Lataminah strikes came days before another alleged sarin assault in nearby town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib province, which killed more than 80 people on April 4.

The Western countries rushed to blame the incident on Damascus — an allegation rejected by the Syrian government — with the United States launching several dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base, taking the lives of about 20 people including both Syrian soldiers and civilians.

The Syrian government surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the UN and the OPCW, which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry. However, Western governments and their allies have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus whenever an apparent chemical attack has taken place.

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