Syria Daily: Russia Blocks Full Investigation of Chemical Attacks on Douma

Young victims of the April 7 chemical attacks on Douma take oxygen for breathing difficulties

Russia blocks inquiry which can assign responsibility for attacks that killed 85+ on Saturday


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Podcasts: Will US and Others Respond to Assad’s Chemical Attacks?


UPDATE 1535 GMT: In a bold propaganda statement, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has both challenged a possible US military intervention and used it to cover up possible Russian destruction of evidence of last Saturday’s chemical attacks on Douma.

Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said:

Are the OPCW inspectors aware that smart missiles are about to destroy all evidence of the chemical weapons use on the ground? Or is that the actual plan – to cover up all evidence of this fabricated attack with smart missile strikes, so that international inspectors had no evidence to look for?

Opposition activists say Russian personnel deployed near the claimed sites of the chemical attacks earlier this week to remove material that might be related to Saturday’s assaults with chlorine and a stronger agent, before Moscow said it would allow OPCW access — under limited conditions — to the the town.


UPDATE 1215 GMT: Continuing his abrupt shift against Russia and Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump threatens Moscow with a military attack on the Assad regime’s facilities:


UPDATE 1055 GMT: The World Health Organization says about 500 people were treated in Douma’s health facilities with “signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals” after the Assad regime’s attacks on Saturday.

“WHO demands immediate unhindered access to the area to provide care to those affected, to assess the health impacts and to deliver a comprehensive public health response,” Peter Salama, the Deputy Director General for emergency preparedness and response, said in Geneva.


UPDATE 1045 GMT: Showing concern over possible military action against the Assad regime — and rewriting Russia’s veto of a full inquiry into the chemical attacks on Douma — Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said:

The situation around Syria is rather tense. You know about the disagreements on the topic of the alleged use of chemical weapons there. Russia absolutely disagrees with this and calls for an unbiased investigation before delivering verdicts.

Hopefully, all countries will refrain from steps that, on the one hand, would be totally unwarranted and on the other hand, may exacerbate the already fragile situation in the region.


UPDATE 1020 GMT: Russia, through its Ambassador to Lebanon, has warned that it may shoot down US missiles and destroy launch sites — e.g. US warships — if Washington carries out strikes on Assad regime positions.

Alexander Zasypkin told Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV: “The Russian forces will confront any US aggression on Syria, by intercepting the missiles and striking their launch pads….The US and Western escalation against Syria will lead to a major crisis.”

The statement was then highlighted by Russian State outlets.


Russia has blocked a full investigation of the Assad regime’s chemical attacks on Douma near Syria’s capital Damascus last Saturday.

Moscow cast its veto in the UN Security Council to stop a US-drafted resolution for an inquiry by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which could assign responsibility for the attacks, which killed at least 85 people with chlorine and a stronger agent.

Last autumn, Russia blocked the extension of the OPCW’s Joint Investigative Mechanism after it found the Assad regime responsible for the April 2017 sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria, which killed about 90 residents and injured hundreds.

Twelve Council members voted for the resolution, while Bolivia joined Russia in voting against, and China abstained.

Russia’s veto was the 12th it has cast during the seven-year Syrian conflict to prevent action which could affect the Assad regime.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the resolution was “the bare minimum that the council can do to respond to the attack”.

But Russia’s Vassily Nebenzia responded, “Why do you need this mechanism when you have already appointed the guilty party before the investigation?”

A Russian text for an investigation with limited scope failed after the resolution was supported by only six members. Seven voted against and two abstained.

The draft would have required investigators to report to the Security Council, which might then assign responsibility.

Objectors to the resolution said the inquiry “would not be independent”, as members would had been appointed by Russia, and noted that “the body itself would not be able to apportion blame or identify perpetrators”.

Another Russian resolution which would have permitted an OPCW visit to Douma, but without any authority to ascertain responsibility, later failed to pass.

The OPCW has said it will try to establish the nature of the chemical attacks by interviewing witnesses and taking biological samples from survivors.

However, any on-site inspection may already have been hindered by the removal or disruption of evidence, which pro-opposition activists claim Russian personnel in Douma carried out at the sites earlier this week.


7 Iranians Killed in Israeli Strikes on Regime Base

The death toll of Iranian personnel killed in Israel’s airstrike on an Assad base in central Syria on Monday has risen to seven.

Israeli missiles, fired from jets over Lebanon, struck the T-4 base near Palmyra. The Israel Defense Forces also hit the base in February, saying Iranian controllers there had directed a drone flight intercepted over Israel.

See Israel Again Attacks Regime Airbase and Iranian Personnel in Central Syria

“The Zionist regime’s attack on Syria will not go unanswered,” said Ali Akbar Velayati, the chief foreign policy advisor to the Supreme Leader, as he arrived in Damascus for talks with Assad regime officials.

The damaged T-4 base:

T-4 AIRBASE DAMAGE

Russia’s envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, met Supreme National Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani in Tehran on Tuesday to discuss developments. The meeting had not been publicly announced, and no details were given to the press afterwards.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

44 COMMENTS

  1. The Russians with their putrid morals did it again: “during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, Russia vetoed a resolution that would have paved the way for a separate, independent probe of any possible chemical attack.”

    And then the Russians have gone in to the site of the attack in Douma, ahead of the OPCW, and cleansed the place of evidence. And they call themselves a “world power” and part of the “developed world” when they act as gangsters? Russia, a Mafia state flooding the internet with fake news.

    Russia pays $4,000 (PPP) a month to English writing Russians to troll the major internet discussion boards with fake news and lies. Facebook recently closed down 30,000 fake Russian accounts traced to Putin’s Olgino operation.

  2. The United Nations Security Council turned down a compromise resolution on Syria, proposed by Sweden and seconded by Russia seeking investigation on the alleged chemical attack in Douma. Five countries supported the resolution with two permanent members – United States and Britain – opposing it. Earlier, a resolution on the same lines which was supported by Russia and China was also opposed by the US and Britain.

    This is a significant political and diplomatic victory for Russia insofar as only two other countries joined the US and Britain to oppose the Swedish resolution. Six countries abstained.

    • Sweden did not propose the “compromise resolution”. It was a Russian draft, and Sweden abstained in the vote.

    • Andre, you are clearly wrong. Russia’s resolution explicitly required that blame not to be assigned, but just a determination of the toxic substance be made. Also the investigators were to be approved by Russia. And if this resolution was accepted, then it would not have been possible to have a resolution that assigned blame. So it had to be voted down.

      So why do you think Russia is scared of blame assignment by an independent agency? Obviously because Russia is guilty. As they say, if one’s book of account is clean, one has no fear of the auditor.

      Russia admitted to guilt by vetoing an independent investigation.

      Could you please answer my questions on the previous page?

      • The OPOCW has never had the terms of reference to assign blame. The US, knowing full well that it had the greatest influence with the UN and UN bodies, proposed granting the OPCW this additional power confident that they could bribe and coerce the OPCW to reach their predetermined conclusion.

        And no, the Russians did not insist on the right to determine who the inspectors would be. The bottom like is that the claim that Russia is blocking an OPCW investigation is false

  3. This is a dishonest headline and report. The Russians are anxious to to have the OPCW carry out an investigation and offered to escort the inspectors and guarantee their security. The US included this addition knowing full well it would sabotage any such resolution. The OPCW have demonstrated they are vulnerable to politicisation and were never going to allow the US this opening to corrupt the invesgition

      • Similarly, a competing draft – penned by Russia – which would have established the mechanism for one year as well but would have given the Security Council the responsibility to assign accountability for the use of chemical weapons in Syria, was also not adopted

        The Council rejected a third text – also proposed by Russia – which concerned the work of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM).

        The draft received five votes in favour (Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Russia), four against (France, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States), and six abstentions (Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Peru, and Sweden).

        https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/04/1006991

        • “but would have given the Security Council the responsibility to assign accountability” — So Russia wanted the Security Council to assign blame, so it it could veto any finding that implicates Assad and the Russians?

          Russians must be pretty dumb to believe the world would fall for this trick.

        • Exactly, the propaganda headline of this post is completely misleading. A majority of those casting votes in the Security Council backed the Russian initiative which would have insisted that the OPCW actually visit the scene of the alleged attack rather than, as last year in Idlib, relying on third parties that could not guarantee the chain of custody.

    • If Russia is anxious for an OPCW investigation then why did they go to the affected location and cleansed it of evidence?

      Why did the Russians want to have control over the investigators, which their resolution demanded?

      Why did the Russians not want any identification of the perpetrator, which their resolution demanded?

      Why did Russia shut down continued OPCW investigation last month?

      Because Russia is scared of the US and world opinion. That is why.

    • lets imagine for a minute that the russians were ok with an investigation, then why would they veto a resolution. The answer is quite obvious.

  4. I’m surprised they weren’t convinced by the UK ambassador’s invoking of Karl Marx for the purpose of moral lecturing.

    • I’m sure that the man who had no issue with the wholesale eradication of reactionary populations would take issue with… gassing Syrian Sunnites. What a fitting representative of the UK, and I seriously mean that.

  5. Are ‘smart’ missiles an attempt to destroy alleged chem attack evidence in Syria? https://www.rt.com/news/423807-moscow-trump-syria-missiles/

    “Are the OPCW inspectors aware that smart missiles are about to destroy all evidence of the chemical weapons use on the ground? Or is that the actual plan – to cover up all evidence of this fabricated attack with smart missile strikes, so that international inspectors had no evidence to look for?” Zakharova asked.

    • 1- The rebels claim Russia has already invaded the site and removed evidence of a CW attack, and

      2- Cruise missiles and smart bombs cannot destroy the evidence of neurotoxic agents, whether at the site or at production facilities, and

      3- Why would the coalition attack the affected site?

    • Revenge of the neocons – haha

      “Mike Pompeo, the hard-charging CIA director picked to be the next secretary of state, will tell the Senate on Thursday that years of soft U.S. policy toward Russia are “now over.” Drawing a sharp contrast with predecessor Rex Tillerson, Pompeo will vow to promote democracy and human rights while ending “demoralizing” vacancies at the State Department.”

      “If we do not lead the calls for democracy, prosperity and human rights around the world, who will?” Pompeo plans to say. “No other nation is equipped with the same blend of power and principle.”

      Will have to wait to see how real this is. Problem with Obama style “diplomacy” is that the world gets full of rogue regimes each wanting to develop nuclear weapons and CW WMDs. That is where diplomacy leads to because rogue regimes are only interested in survival and ruling the sheep, often ideologically if that stirs the masses. And of course the regressive left loves these rogue regimes because they “create a balance against the imperialists and colonialists [whatever that is]”. And probably they simplistically think that these rogue regimes will one day destroy western civilization and usher in socialism, where the regressives can rule and implement ‘utopia’ on earth (keep on dreaming).

      https://www.apnews.com/eeaa249ec8454741bb39347e0bfae763/Nominee-to-lead-State-Dept.:-Soft-policy-on-Russia-‘over’

  6. I read about this rule of thumb regarding Russia a long time ago and it seems to be absolutely true. The saying goes that if you want to know what Russia is really up to then just look at what their propaganda is accusing others of doing. Those accusations are generally Russia’s own true goals.

    For example when the US smoked all those Russian mercs the Russians accused the US of coveting Syrian oil fields. Which means that that is why Russia really launched that attack. To take the oil fields.

    • There is evidence that Prkgozhin, Putin’s buddy and head of Wagner, had a deal with Assad where any oil field he could capture, Prigozhin had the right to something like 2/3 of the revenue or income from the field.

      And the pro-Assad trolls talk about “Syrian sovereignty” and how Assad has the god-given right to that, when Assad gives away Syria’s oil fields for his personal regime longevity. That is what Assad activists mean by ‘sovereignty’.

  7. Revenge of the neocons – haha

    “Mike Pompeo, the hard-charging CIA director picked to be the next secretary of state, will tell the Senate on Thursday that years of soft U.S. policy toward Russia are “now over.” Drawing a sharp contrast with predecessor Rex Tillerson, Pompeo will vow to promote democracy and human rights while ending “demoralizing” vacancies at the State Department.”

    “If we do not lead the calls for democracy, prosperity and human rights around the world, who will?” Pompeo plans to say. “No other nation is equipped with the same blend of power and principle.”

    Will have to wait to see how real this is. Problem with Obama style “diplomacy” is that the world gets full of rogue regimes each wanting to develop nuclear weapons and CW WMDs. That is where diplomacy leads to because rogue regimes are only interested in survival and ruling the sheep, often ideologically if that stirs the masses. And of course the regressive left loves these rogue regimes because they “create a balance against the imperialists and colonialists [whatever that is]”. And probably they simplistically think that these rogue regimes will one day destroy western civilization and usher in socialism, where the regressives can rule and implement ‘utopia’ on earth (keep on dreaming).

    https://www.apnews.com/eeaa249ec8454741bb39347e0bfae763/Nominee-to-lead-State-Dept.:-Soft-policy-on-Russia-‘over’

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