Syria ready to cooperate with UN watchdog on gas attack allegations
Syria has strongly dismissed allegations that government forces used poisonous gas against a militant-held area in the strategic northwestern city of Aleppo, stating that the Damascus government is ready to cooperate with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) over the claims.
In a statement released on Thursday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry, blamed terrorist groups and their sponsors for criminal activities in the crisis-stricken Arab country, arguing that such allegations are merely meant to undermine recent advances by the Syrian army.
“Terrorist groups and their Western and Persian Gulf patrons regularly disseminate anti-Syria propaganda through fabricating baseless allegations about the use of chemical agents, like chlorine gas. Such attempts are aimed at misleading the international community and distracting the world public opinion from the crimes they are committing in Syria,” the statement pointed out.
The statement further noted that Damascus is ready to work with a team of the OPCW currently in Syria, and look into claims that Syrian helicopters dropped bombs with chlorine on the Sukri neighborhood of Aleppo, located some 355 km (220 miles) north of the capital Damascus, on Tuesday.
The Syrian government turned over its entire chemical stockpile under a deal negotiated by Russia and the United States back in 2013.
The OPCW has overseen operations to remove the chemical stockpiles from Syria.
The deal came after an August 2013 gas attack that killed hundreds of people in the Ghouta suburb of Damascus. According to reports, the rockets used in the assault were handmade and contained sarin.
While the Syrian government denied having been responsible for the Ghouta attack, it agreed to have its chemical stockpiles removed to eliminate any pretext for a possible US invasion.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
Back in 2014, the UN said it would no more update its death toll for Syria because it could not verify the figures that it received from various sources.