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Iran blasts OPCW body’s ‘unbalanced,’ politically-oriented decision on Syria

Syrians receive medical treatment after an alleged chemical gas attack on a militant-held area in eastern Ghouta of Damascus, Syria, on July 13, 2017.

Iran’s ambassador to The Hague denounces a recent decision by a branch of the world’s chemical arms watchdog to find Syria responsible for deployment of such weapons, as an “unbalanced” move aimed at politicization of the international organization.

On Thursday, the executive branch of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) voted 29 to three, with nine abstentions in favor of the decision to condemn Syria for, what the organization’s so-called investigators have called, use of chemical arms on the militant-held town of Lataminah in the western Hama region in March 2017.

The meeting of the politically-divided 41-member Executive Council of the OPCW in The Hague followed a report in April by the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), which claimed Syrian military planes and a helicopter had use banned sarin and chlorine bombs on Lataminah .

Speaking on Saturday, the Iranian envoy, Alireza Kazemi Abadi, denounced the report as “partial and irreconcilable with the truth,” calling the very decision to task the IIT with the so-called investigation “illegitimate.”

The ambassador called the decision towards condemnation of Syria “unbalanced, politically-motivated, unacceptable, and a step towards politicization of the organization and sowing of division among its membership.”

The decision, he added, ignores many factors, including Syria’s extensive efforts towards cooperation with the OPCW, something that has been verified in reports by the organization’s secretary general too.

He underlined that many of the countries that have backed the decision used to be among those that would arm Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons and provide his military with bombing coordinates during the former Iraqi dictator’s 1980-88 war against the Islamic Republic.

The decision by the OPCW’s executive body, however, is yet to be put to a final vote that will come at the next meeting of the organization’s full membership, the Conference of States Parties, that is to start in late November.

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 United Nations and the OPCW, which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry. However, Western governments and their allies have never stopped to point the finger at Damascus whenever an apparent chemical attack takes place.

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