Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, April 21

From Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation

April 21, 2017

On April 21, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a call initiated by the American side.

When discussing international issues, Minister Lavrov expressed his regret that the United States spoke at the OPCW special meeting against Russia’s initiative to send inspectors to Syria to verify allegations of the use of sarin in the town of Khan Sheikhun on April 4 and the presence of chemical warfare agents at Shayrat Airbase in Syria. The sides agreed to examine once again the possibility of carrying out an objective investigation into the incident under the auspices of the OPCW.

Some bilateral issues were considered as well. Minister Lavrov reiterated the demand that Russian diplomatic property in the United States illegally seized by the Obama Administration be returned. The parties agreed that a joint working group at the level of deputy foreign ministers will begin work soon to find ways to remove irritants from bilateral relations.

http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2735390

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Syria chemical weapons attack: without any in situ inspection, OPCW attests “incontrovertible sarin exposure”

Global Research, April 22, 2017

Without Any In Situ Inspection, OPCW Confirms Sarin Exposure During the Explosion That Took Place in Idlib (Syria) Last April 4th

On April 19, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), confirmed that “the analysis indicate that the victims were exposed to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance” during the events occurred in Idlib, Syria, last April 4th (see full text of the press release issued a the end of this note).

The explosion that took place in Syria last April 4th has been followed 48 hours later by a missiles strike of United States, with 59 Tomahawk missiles sent to the Syrian aerial base to which, in accordance to United States intelligence report (see full text), the alleged “chemical weapon attack” has been carried out by Syrian airforces. This strike constitutes a clear violation of United Nations Charter, as no military action can be taken without prior approval of UN Security Council. See on this particular point the analysis published by Professor Marko Milanovic (University of Nottingham) entitled: “The Clearly Illegal US Missile Strike in Syria” published by EJIL-Talk.

A well known scientist from MIT (Massachusetts), Theodor Postol has analyzed the intelligence report issued by United States, and has expressed some doubts about the United States thesis and conclusions on direct responsibility of Syria (see Postol´analysis published by GlobalResearch in which we read that:

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Khan Sheikhoun, Syria: The nerve agent attack that did not occur

Global Research, April 19, 2017
Washington’s Blog 18 April 2017

Analysis of the Times and Locations of Critical Events in the Alleged Nerve Agent Attack at 7 AM on April 4, 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria

This analysis contains a detailed description of the times and locations of critical events in the alleged nerve agent attack of April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun, Syria – assuming that the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued on April 11, 2017 correctly identified the alleged sarin release site.

Analysis using weather data from the time of the attack shows that a small hamlet about 300 m to the east southeast of the crater could be the only location affected by the alleged nerve agent release. The hamlet is separated from the alleged release site (a crater) by an open field. The winds at the time of the release would have initially taken the sarin across the open field. Beyond the hamlet there is a substantial amount of open space and the sarin cloud would have had to travel long additional distance for it to have dissipated before reaching any other population center.

Video taken on April 4 shows that the location where the victims were supposedly being treated from sarin exposure is incompatible with the only open space in the hamlet that could have been used for mass treatment of victims. This indicates that the video scenes where mass casualties (dead and dying) were laid on the ground randomly was not at the hamlet. If the location where the bodies were on the ground was instead a site where the injured and dead were taken for processing, then it is hard to understand why bodies were left randomly strewn on the ground and in mud as shown in the videos.

The conclusion of this summary of data is obvious – the nerve agent attack described in the WHR did not occur as claimed. There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR.

The findings of this analysis can serve two important purposes:

  1. It shows exactly what needs to be determined in an international investigation of this alleged atrocity. In particular, if an international investigation can determine where casualties from the nerve agent attack lived, it will further confirm that the findings reported by the WHR are not compatible with the data it cites as evidence for its conclusions.
  2. It also establishes that the WHR did not utilize simple and widely agreed upon intelligence analysis procedures to determine its conclusions.

This raises troubling questions about how the US political and military leadership determined that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged attack. It is particularly of concern that the WHR presented itself as a report with “high confidence” findings and that numerous high-level officials in the US government have confirmed their belief that the report was correct and to a standard of high confidence.

Methodology Used in This Analysis

The construction of the time of day at which particular video frames were generated is determined by simply using the planetary geometry of the sun angle during the day on April 4. The illustration below of the sun-angle geometry shows the Day/Night Sun Terminator at the location of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. The angle of the sun relative to local horizontal is summarized in the table that follows the image of the planetary geometry along with the temperature during the day between 6:30 AM and 6 PM.

The next set of two side-by-side images shows the shadows at a location where a large number of poison victims are being treated in what appears to be the aftermath of a poisoning event. The shadows indicate that this event occurred at about 7:30 AM. This is consistent with the possibility of a nerve agent attack at 7 AM on the morning of April 4 and it is also consistent with the allegation in the WHR that an attack occurred at 6:55 AM on that day.

The timing sequence of the attack is important for determining the consistency of the timelines with the allegations of a sarin release at the crater identified in the WHR.

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Syria: OPCW’s block of on-site probe of chemical incident shows Western powers now aiming to oust Assad – Lavrov

From RT
April 21, 2017

The attempt by Western countries to derail Russia’s fact-finding initiative in Syria to examine the site of the chemical incident in Idlib province exposes their aim to topple the Syrian government, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

READ MORE: Russia questions Britain’s chemical weapons investigation in Syria

“I believe that it’s a very serious situation, because now it’s obvious that false information about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is being used to move away from implementing Resolution 2254, which stipulates a political settlement with the participation of all the Syrian parties, and aims to switch to the long-cherished idea of regime change,” Lavrov said, speaking at a press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Astana.

UNSC Resolution 2254 calls for an inclusive government in Syria and a peace process that would involve a new constitution and free and fair elections.

According to the minister, the decision displayed “complete incompetence” on the part of his Western colleagues, who, in fact, are “prohibiting the OPCW from sending their experts to the site of the incident, as well as to the airfield from where aircraft loaded with chemical weapons allegedly flew out.”

“Yesterday [April 20], our proposal that experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] visit the sites of the suspected chemical attack in Syria was blocked by Western delegations without any explanations,” Lavrov said.

In the meantime, the UK and France claim their experts have received samples from the site of the incident, Lavrov added.

READ MORE: UN doesn’t send experts to Idlib ‘chemical incident’ site as West & US are blocking it – Assad

“London, Paris, and the OPCW have given no answers to our questions as to where they took these samples, who took them, or when they were delivered,” Lavrov stated.

“I think we are very close to this organization [OPCW] being discredited,” Lavrov added.

On Thursday, the OPCW’s executive council overwhelmingly rejected a proposal from Russia and Iran for a new investigation into the Idlib chemical incident.

The proposal had been amended to agree to Western demands that the investigation into the alleged attack be carried out by the existing OPCW fact-finding mission, but was defeated nonetheless.

The draft proposal seen by AFP called on the OPCW “to establish whether chemical weapons were used in Khan Sheikhoun and how they were delivered to the site of the reported incident.”

Both OPCW fact-checking missions tasked with looking into the Idlib incident are being headed by UK citizens, which Lavrov called “a very strange coincidence” that “runs contrary to the principles of an international organization.”

Earlier in April, an incident in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun reportedly killed as many as 100 people and injured several hundred. The US has squarely laid the blame on Damascus, claiming that it hid chemical weapons stockpiles from the OPCW after pledging to hand them over in 2013.

Moscow, however, said a thorough investigation, including an on-site inspection in rebel-held territory, should be carried out before jumping to any conclusions. Russia has cautioned that the incident may have been a false flag operation meant to provoke a US attack against Syrian government forces.

https://www.rt.com/news/385515-lavrov-opcw-mission-syria-blocked/

Russian Foreign Minister comments on Pence, McMasters statements, and chemical weapon investigation problems

From Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian Federation
April 17, 2017

Excerpts:

Question: Can you comment on rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, taking into account US Vice President Mike Pence’s comment that the era of strategic patience is over in relations with North Korea and that all options are on the table to achieve security in the region?

Sergey Lavrov: I wouldn’t describe relations between North Korea and the Obama administration as an era of strategic patience, because the United States greatly restricted North Korea’s ability to develop the industries that could promote the nuclear or energy sectors. The UN Security Council adopted harsh sanctions against North Korea and condemned its policy.

If the figure of speech used by the US Vice President can be understood as a threat of a unilateral military solution, it is a highly risky path. We condemn Pyongyang’s opportunistic nuclear missile plans, which violate the numerous UN Security Council resolutions. But this does not mean that other countries can violate international law and use military force contrary to the UN Charter. I strongly hope that no unilateral actions will be taken similar to those we have recently seen in Syria, and that the United States will pursue the line President Donald Trump put forth during his election campaign.

Question: Can you comment on the statement by the US National Security Adviser Army Lieutenant General McMaster that “it’s time though, now, to have those tough discussions” with Russia over its support for Syria’s government and its “subversive actions” in Europe?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a complex question. I have no desire to comment on the unsubstantiated accusations made against Russia. First they concerned Ukraine, and now the focus has shifted to Syria. I have seen media reports that US or British officials are saying that they could cooperate with Russia if it [behaved] in Ukraine and, Syria, and now the Korean Peninsula has been added to the list. It appears that we must do something for somebody on the Korean Peninsula too, although we did not create the chaos that is reigning there. ISIS, and before it, al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra, are the offspring of opportunistic projects that involved our Western partners, primarily many US administrations, which began by supporting the mujahedeen in Afghanistan and praising them as freedom fighters, and continued this policy in Iraq and Libya. And now that these countries have been ruined, it appears that we must pay for the consequences. This is not how partners act. This approach is not acceptable to us. We will not listen to what President Trump’s adviser has said, but what President Trump himself has said, that he is optimistic when it comes to improving relations with Russia. We are ready for this.

Question: What issues are on the agenda of the upcoming Geneva meeting on the intra-Syrian settlement? Will it be political issues only, or will military issues also be discussed, in light of the recent air strike on the Syrian airfield and the coalition landing operation near Deir Ez-Zor?

Sergey Lavrov: The talks in Geneva will be held after May 3–4, that is, following a regular meeting in Astana. We hope that the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Mr Staffan de Mistura, will find a suitable date. It has been suggested that since the holy month of Ramadan begins in late May, it would be expedient to postpone the talks until after it ends. We are convinced that we must not lose momentum, especially in a situation when the political process has been brought into question. I am referring to the strike on the Shayrat airfield and the intention of many players in Syria, among the external opposition and in many countries in and outside the region, to use this situation to place the blame squarely on Bashar al-Assad. They seek to deviate from a political settlement through the expression of the will of the Syrian people themselves to conduct unilateral actions to overthrow the Syrian government. It is an alarming trend. As I have said, in pursuit of this goal, they are using the April 4 chemical weapons incident in Idlib, which was followed by the illegal US air strike on the airfield from which planes allegedly carrying chemical weapons took off. I have said repeatedly that we demand that an objective and unbiased investigation be carried out under the auspices of the OPCW with assistance from independent experts, and that this investigation be fully transparent.

I would like to remind you that we have pointed out a very strange coincidence: that the two groups of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on the potential use of chemical weapons in Syria are chaired by UK citizens. We have said that this runs contrary to the principles of an international organisation, the structures of which must be maximally balanced. We have not received any response as yet, but we can regard a recent statement by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as an indirect response. He said in an interview that Damascus and Russia and Iran, which support it, are to blame for the chemical attack.  By way of evidence, he said that British scientists have analysed samples from the site of the attack, and that these have tested positive for sarin or a sarin-like substance. That’s an interesting coincidence: British citizens chairing the OPCW FFM don’t tell anyone anything, while British scientists have already analysed samples taken at the site of the incident. I believe we will be sending a request to the OPCW today demanding an explanation. I expect they will have to answer this time.

The situation is not simple at all. We hope that the majority of countries see what is going on. We will not permit anyone to derail the efforts to attain a political settlement in Syria under the UN Security Council resolution.

http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2729221

White Helmets handle deadly toxic “sarin gas” while lighting up cigarettes (Video)

From Rusvesna.su

April 14, 2017

With each passing day the White Helmets expose themselves as the ISIS – Al Qaeda jihadist scam most readers of this site know them to be.

It has been recently reported by the Swedish NGO Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR) that the White Helmets murdering babies, not save babies and imitating life-saving procedures.

Now we can see the White Helmets pretend to handle deadly toxic sarin gas, which we are sure will sent to John McCain Labs Inc., where Assad and Russia will be found guilty of launching a chemical strike on “beautiful babies”.

We wonder, upon watching forensics experts/chemical weapons investigators/freedom fighters/medical doctors/first responders, the White Helmets, why some guys have masks, others do not.

Why some guys have gloves, others do not.

Some White Helmets jihadists are even hanging around the sarin gas lighting up a smoke.

[at :42, a man in black is in the foreground with a cigarette in his mouth; at :46, he is seen behind a masked figure, blowing out the smoke]

It appears like the UK funded White Helmets is having a jolly good time hanging around, filming the collection of sarin gas for the western mainstream media to happily distribute around the world to western sheep giddy to go to start a world war and raise a black flag over Damascus.

 http://rusvesna.su/english/1492162721
[There is also a steady stream of vehicles going by on the other side of the street and a motorcyclist that pulls up nearby]

MIT professor exposes ‘egregious error’ & evidence tampering in US report on Syria sarin incident

From RT

April 14, 2017

A closer look at photos from the town of Khan Shaykhun shows that the chemical attack site was tampered with and that the US report blaming the Syrian government can’t be true, says the MIT professor skeptical of the White House narrative.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Theodore Postol, who wrote a preliminary review of the US government claims earlier this week and shared his findings with RT, examined photographs of the attack site and concluded that the report endorsed by the White House “could not be true.”

Senior US administration officials who briefed the media on Tuesday admitted the White House intelligence was partly “based on the pro-opposition social media reporting,” which “tells a very clear and consistent story about what we think happened.”

Postol’s six-page addendum, made public on Thursday evening, “unambiguously shows that the assumption in the [White House report] that there was no tampering with the alleged site of the sarin release is not correct.”

That assumption was “totally unjustified,” wrote Postol, “and no competent intelligence analyst would have agreed that this assumption was valid.”

By implication, the report was not reviewed and released by competent intelligence experts – “unless they were motivated by factors other than concerns about the accuracy of the report,” the professor added.

Postol’s key argument is a series of photographs of the crater where the container holding sarin was supposedly air-dropped. He pointed to a photograph of several men inspecting the site, wearing loose clothing and medical gloves.

“If there were any sarin present at this location when this photograph was taken everybody in the photograph would have received a lethal or debilitating dose of sarin,” he wrote. “The fact that these people were dressed so inadequately either suggests a complete ignorance of the basic measures needed to protect an individual from sarin poisoning, or that they knew that the site was not seriously contaminated.”

Another photo shows the crushed contained half-buried in the crater, while in other photos is has been dug up and repositioned.

On Thursday, CIA Director Mike Pompeo confirmed that it was his agency which concluded that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun, which persuaded Trump to fire 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase last week.

“We were good, and fast,” Pompeo said at an event in Washington, DC, “and we got it right.”

The US missile attack caused tensions between Washington and Moscow, leading to a suspension of a military hotline intended to “deconflict” operations over Syria and the US-led coalition scaling back its strikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL.)

The Syrian government has denied using or even possessing chemical weapons. Syria’s compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention was certified by international observers in 2013, the Russian General Staff said, noting that this did not include two sites on territory controlled by the rebels.

https://www.rt.com/usa/384800-syria-gas-professor-addendum/