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Syria has no chemical weapons, keeps cooperating with OPCW: UN envoy

Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari (Photo by SANA news agency)

Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari has reiterated that his country is not in possession of chemical weapons and remains committed to cooperating with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

He made the remarks during a UN Security Council session via video conference on Friday, saying Syria has managed to fulfill its obligations since the 2013 accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) despite the difficult circumstances it has passed through over the past years and the grave challenges created by terrorist groups. 

“This cooperation resulted in the elimination of all Syria’s stockpiles and the destruction of the relevant production facilities, which was confirmed by the Head of the Joint Mission to Eliminate Chemical Weapons in Syria Sigrid Kaag in her briefing to the Security Council in June 2014 [and] … documents issued by the Technical Secretariat of the Prohibition Organization,” Jaafari said in a statement.

Syria surrendered its entire chemical stockpile in 2013 to a mission led by the United Nations and the OPCW.

Kaag headed the joint OPCW-UN mission that oversaw the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal.

“Syria has not and will not use chemical weapons and does not basically possess them and is committed to cooperating” with the OPCW and its technical secretariat in a bid to settle all outstanding issues emanating from political manipulation and misleading media campaign, Jaafari stressed.

However, he added, some OPCW member states retained their hostile positions on Syria, increased political pressure and launched unilateral as well as tripartite acts of aggression against the Arab country.

The Syrian envoy also urged the OPCW member states to abandon the politicization of issues and preserve the technical nature of the chemical watchdog along with its credibility and professionalism.

On April 7, 2018, an alleged chemical attack hit the Syrian city of Douma near the capital Damascus. Western countries were quick to blame it on the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

A week later, the US, Britain and France launched a coordinated missile attack against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government’s capability to produce chemicals.

Damascus, however, said that no chemical attack had happened and that the Douma incident had been staged by foreign intelligence agencies to pressure the government in the face of army advances against militants.

It also specifically pointed to the role of the White Helmets, a group which claims to be a humanitarian NGO but has long been accused of working with anti-Damascus militants and staging false-flag gas attacks.

Elsewhere in his statement, Jaafari held Western governments responsible for the suffering of the Syrian people, citing their direct involvement in the terrorist, political, economic and financial war waged against Syria.

“As they claim their adherence to noble principles and sublime values in all issues related to the situation in Syria, these states commit the ugliest crimes against Syrian people,” he said.

“These states destroyed Iraq under false pretexts and launched a misleading campaign against Syria, but at the same time sponsor and support the Israeli chemical and nuclear arsenal and defend Israeli violations of all international conventions.”

The Syrian diplomat further said that the US is the only party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) that possesses a huge arsenal of chemical weapons and rejects calls to destroy them.

“Moreover, the US and its allies have been sponsoring the terrorist organizations which are using chemical weapons and poisonous gases against Syrian Arab army and Syrian people,” he concluded.

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