The Syrian government has denounced a recent decision made by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the world’s chemical watchdog, to empower itself to assign blame for alleged chemical attacks.
“Syria expresses its deep concern at the methods of blackmail and threat used by Western countries, especially the ones involved in the tripartite aggression against Syria — the US, UK and France — to pass a resolution at the OPCW emergency session,” Syria’s official news agency, SANA, quoted a source at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates as saying on Friday.
On Wednesday, the Hague-based organization passed by 82 votes to 24 a British-backed proposal, which enable the watchdog to hold responsible those who it thinks are behind alleged chemical attacks. Until then, the OPCW’s mandate was limited only to determining whether or not a chemical attack took place, not who was responsible.
Russia, which had strongly opposed granting extra powers to the OPCW, said it would not rule out leaving what it called a “sinking Titanic.”
The new decision would allow for the watchdog to be used as “vehicle to carry out violations against independent, sovereign states under the pretexts of chemical weapons use”, the source further said, adding, “The decision will only add new complications to the OPCW’s capacity to play its role, which will lead to its paralysis.”
Back in April, militants and activists linked to them, including the so-called civil defense group White Helmets, claimed that government forces on Saturday had dropped a barrel bomb containing poisonous chemicals in Douma, Eastern Ghouta’s largest town, killing and wounding dozens of civilians.
Damascus strongly rejected the allegation and said that the so-called Jaish al-Islam Takfiri terrorist group, which had dominant presence in the town at the time, was repeating the allegations of using chemical munitions “in order to accuse the Syrian Arab army, in a blatant attempt to hinder the Army’s advance.”
However, the US State Department issued a strongly-worded statement, blaming the Syrian government for purportedly conducting the attack.