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MOSCOW claimed yesterday to have “incontrovertible evidence” that Britain falsified claims of a chemical attack in Syria to justify military action.
Russia’s envoy to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Alexander Shulgin made the sensational claims that Britain and the US had paid NGOs, including pseudo-humanitarian organisation the White Helmets to make the claims.
"Therefore, we have not just a ‘high degree of confidence’ as our Western partners claim, but we have incontrovertible evidence that there was no incident on April 7 in Douma and that all this was a planned provocation by the British intelligence services, probably, with the participation of their senior allies from Washington with the aim of misleading the international community and justifying aggression against Syria," Mr Shulgin said.
Britain, the US and France continue to insist that chemical attacks were carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on April 7.
Despite presenting no evidence to support the claims, the trio carried out targeted air strikes on Damascus on Saturday April 14, before the OPCW were able to carry out its planned investigations.
Douma was the last stronghold of Jaish al-Islam militants who had signed a surrender agreement with Damascus allowing them to leave as the Syrian army closed in to retake the area.
The Islamist group admitted using banned chemical weapons against Kurds in Aleppo in 2016 during an attack on the city’s Sheikh Maqsood district.
Mr Shulgin claimed that there was “no doubt the Americans are playing the ‘first violin’” in a script prepared in Washington.
“The United States, the United Kingdom, France and some other countries after the "fake" addition from the White Helmets and their ilk in Douma, immediately pounced upon the Syrian authorities with accusations," he said.
The nine-strong inspection team had not reached Douma at the time the Star went to print.
OPCW director-general Ahmet Uzumcu said that Syrian and Russian officials cited “pending security issues” in the area following the weekend’s missile attacks.
Russia denied claims that it was tampering with evidence and Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said Damascus is "fully ready" to co-operate with the OPCW mission.
Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said "the consequences of the illegal, unlawful military action" were the cause of the hold-up, with inspectors unable to access the site of the alleged attacks because it needs permission from UN security experts.
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