Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has criticized Western countries, noting that they are looking for excuses to avoid investigating both a recent suspected chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib Province as well as US missile strikes on an air base in the Arab country’s province of Homs.
“We want the inspectors to transparently, independently and professionally investigate not only the [Shayrat] airfield that, as claimed by our Western colleagues, was used to load the aircraft with chemical weapons, but also to inspect the site hit by the airstrike. Only this kind of inspection can be objective,” Lavrov said in a joint press conference with his Bangladeshi counterpart, Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali, in Moscow on Thursday.
Over 80 people died in the April 4 purported gas attack on Khan Shaykhun, which Western countries blamed on the Syrian government.
Using the incident as a pretext, US warships fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from two warships in the Mediterranean Sea at the Shayrat airfield in Syria’s central province of Homs on April 7. US officials claimed that the suspected Khan Shaykhun attack had been launched from the military site.
Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported that at least nine people had been killed in the early morning strike on the Syrian airfield.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the top Russian diplomat argued that the United Nations Security Council draft resolution calling on Damascus to give UN inspectors access to all government military sites in Syria as part of investigations into the alleged Khan Shaykhun chemical attack “was formed unilaterally.”
Lavrov said the resolution was jammed with demands that the Syrian government open access to all of its military objects, noting that “there were no instructions to inspect the site in Idlib Province where the incident had happened."
He stressed that Syrian military aircraft had pounded an area controlled for the past six years by members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
“In this region, chemical weapons were said to have been produced, which were then used in Iraq and Syria. If our Western partners refuse to include the request to those who help extremists in the region, which demands [they] open access to the site for inspectors, then they are afraid to ascertain truth,” the Russian foreign minister pointed out.
Syria's Foreign Ministry has condemned the US strike as "a flagrant aggression" against the Arab country, saying that Washington’s real objective was to "weaken the strength of the Syrian army in confronting terrorist groups."
The ministry has also described the Khan Shaykhun attack as a "premeditated action that aimed to justify the launching of a US attack on the Syrian army."
The Russian Foreign Ministry also censured the attack as an act of aggression against a sovereign state.