The fact that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) did not include a video footage by the "White Helmets" NGO into the report on April's chemical incident in the Syrian province of Idlib suggests that the US decision to carry out a missile strike on a Syrian airbase was based on "insignificant information," Russia's Permanent Representative to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin said on Thursday.
The video footage of the "White Helmets" group featured the bodies of children who allegedly fell victims to sarin gas attack.
"As for the video of children dying presumably from the exposure to sarin, the FFM leaders explained that the experts did not even analyze it as they did not consider it to be primary evidence… But excuse me, photos of whom US Permanent Representative [to the United Nations] Nikki Haley was demonstrating at a meeting in New York? Were they not of these children?… On April 6, at an official meeting of the OPCW delegation with the [US] State Department officials, we were told that US President [Donald] Trump got 'extremely angry' when he saw the footage of dying children," Shulgin said at a 85th OPCW executive council meeting.
The Russian envoy said that reportedly it was exactly this footage that made Trump take the decision to strike the Syrian Ash Sha’irat air base.
"But since you say, I mean our opponents, that the video is not a significantly important evidence in the case of the Khan Sheikhoun incident, then, it turns out that the president of the great power took a critically important decision to launch missiles on the basis of just some sort of insignificant information," Shulgin said.
On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, supported by the United States, blamed Damascus for the Khan Sheikhoun chemical weapons incident that killed 80 people, including children, and injured 200 more. The Syrian army strongly rejected the accusations and laid the blame on local militants. The Syrian authorities said that they had never used chemical weapons against civilians or terrorists, and that the nation's entire chemical arsenal had been destroyed under the control of the OPCW.
Reacting to the incident, Washington, which had not presented any proof of chemical weapon use by Damascus, launched 59 cruise missiles at the Syrian governmental military airfield in Ash Sha’irat on April 7.
On April 21, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Sputnik that there was no chemical weapon attack in Idlib, adding that the reports were a false flag and a fabrication which was supposed to justify a US missile strike on the Syrian airbase.