OPCW Verdict on Sarin in Idlib Reminds 'Making Diagnosis Without Seeing Patient'

© REUTERS / Ammar AbdullahCivil defense members inspect the damage at a site hit by airstrikes on Tuesday, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 5, 2017
Civil defense members inspect the damage at a site hit by airstrikes on Tuesday, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 5, 2017 - Sputnik International
According to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (OPCW), sarin was used in Khan Sheikhoun in the Syrian province of Idlib. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with an ex-member of a UN commission on biological and chemical weapons, Igor Nikulin.

A civil defence member breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017. - Sputnik International
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On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces claimed that 80 people were killed and 200 injured in a suspected chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, blaming the Syrian government. Damascus vehemently rejected the accusations and said militants and their allies were responsible.

On Wednesday, the OPCW fact-checking mission investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhun said it had found traces of sarin in the victims' bodies.

"The results of these analyses from four OPCW designated laboratories indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin like substance. While further details of the laboratory analyses will follow, the analytical results already obtained are incontrovertible," OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said Wednesday.

A picture taken on April 4, 2017 shows destruction at a hospital room in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, following a suspected toxic gas attack. - Sputnik International
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The next day, the OPCW rejected the Russian and Iranian proposal to investigate the suspected chemical weapons incident in Syria’s Idlib.

The Russian Defense Ministry questioned how the OPCW, which he said was created as an objective and impartial international organization, was able to come to that conclusion in two weeks while still being unable to identify mustard gas use in Aleppo in four months.

"If there really was sarin in Khan Shaykhun, how can the OPCW explain White Helmets charlatans jumping in sarin vapor without protection means? Everyone has seen it. I would like to receive from [OPCW chief Ahmet] Uzumcu distinct answers to all the questions as soon as possible," the ministry's spokesman said.

According to ex-member of a UN commission on biological and chemical weapons Nikulin, the OPCW probe cannot be considered objective in any way.

"Unfortunately, the hasty statements that they [OPCW officials] make without the commission's visit [to Idlib], without taking analyses on the ground, are of course alarming asthe footages we all saw don't necessarily mean that exactly sarin had been used, although it cannot be excluded. If the commission arrived at the site and took trial tests, then it would be logical. But they made a diagnosis from The Hague. It reminds of a diagnosis of a doctor who did not see his patient," he told Sputnik Radio.

The expert added that Damascus has been blamed for the alleged chemical attack that hadn't been properly investigated.

"They all try to place the blame on the [Syrian] government troops, but then the OPCW needs to withdraw its signature under the document in which it had verified that all the chemical weapons of [President Bashar] Assad were transferred to UN inspectors, plus return the Nobel Prize. Because that will mean it turned out that they did not cope with the task about which they reported," he concluded.

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Mikhail Uliyanov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control (DNAC) said earlier that the OPCW inaction over chemical weapons incident could damage its credibility as there are no facts that OPCW representatives have visited the Khan Shaykhun area.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minsiter Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was using its relations with Damascus to encourage the Syrian government to fully cooperate with the OPCW which announced in January 2016 that it had destroyed Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal in accordance with an agreement reached after the 2013 Ghouta attack.

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