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Al-Jaafari: Syria is Waiting Investigation Team into Khan al-Assal Incident
Speaking at a press conference held at the Unites Nations headquarters in New York Tuesday, al-Jaafari made clear that the Syrian government has always affirmed that it will not use chemical weapons, if it has any, against its people.
He added that it was the Syrian government that has taken the initiative to request an immediate investigation to find out the perpetrators of the heinous crime committed in Khan al-Assal area in Aleppo on March 19th.
He noted that the Syrian letter requesting a probe came only few hours after the crime occurred and during this period all accusations were made against the Syrian government promoted by many Arab regional and international political and media sides without confirmed facts.
The Syrian Ambassador to the UN said the Syrian government’s initiative requesting an inquiry has made this campaign of accusations invalid, the thing which pushed the delegations of France and Britain to try to stoke this attack again and undermine the Syrian initiative by requesting an investigation into claims which say that chemical weapons have been used in other areas in Syria.
Al-Jaafari reminded that France and Britain themselves did use different types of weapons of mass destruction, recalling how Winston Churchill, then secretary of state of Britain, used chemical gases in 1920 in Iraq, declaring that “I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes.”
He also referred to France’s first nuclear tests on neighborhoods in the Algerian desert, recalling also the use of these types of weapons by Italy in Libya and by the US forces which used chemical weapons against the Iraqi city of al-Fallujah in 2004 and ‘Agent Orange’ in Vietnam.
“We haven’t heard anybody condemning or even talking about these inhumane practices, and therefore the countries which are involved in using weapons of mass destruction have no right to hold others to account,” al-Jaafari stressed.
He demanded that the countries which have submitted requests and letters claiming that chemical weapons have been used in Syria in areas other than Khan al-Assal “provide credible information on the alleged incidents so as to study and assess them.”
He added that it is in no way possible to have an investigation mission formed with a limited number of members moving freely on the Syrian land based on letters including baseless claims whose aim is clearly malicious, especially when these letters and requests are submitted by countries that have been hostile towards Syria since the beginning of the crisis.
“We expect the UN General Secretariat not to be part of this campaign targeting Syria,” said al-Jaafari, adding that “What happened in Iraq has been alive in our mind until this moment, and our region in general and Iraq in particular are living the repercussions of such false claims.”
He made clear that Syria has been honest and clear with the UN General Secretariat since the beginning, stressing that the Syrian government is still ready to welcome the investigation team in less than 24 hours according to the agreement reached with Head of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, on April 4th.
He added that the Syrian government has not closed the door before the UN and the investigation mission regarding any other claims, noting however that respecting the international law and the UN Charter demands a strong respect of the sovereignty of countries.
“This requires that the Syrian government, being the party concerned, be acquainted with the details of incidents which foreign countries claim they have happened on the Syrian land,” al-Jaafari said.
He expressed regret that Syria has so far not received any information concerning these claims despite its repeated requests, regretting that the UN General Secretariat instead has been issuing statements which would give the impression that the Syrian government was not cooperating with it regarding the investigation.
Syria’s UN Representative explained that after the Syrian government agreed with Angela Kane on April 3rd to welcome the investigation mission and discuss relevant logistic details for which a short session was held on April 4th, Kane then went back on the agreement to hold a longer session of talks to complete all items regarding the work mechanism so as for the mission to come to Syria as soon as possible and delivered a letter the next day contrary to the previous agreement.
He added that upon asking Kane about the contradiction, she said that new information have been made available to the UN Secretary General on the other French and British claims although he was then in the Hague.
Al-Jaafari wondered how the UN Secretary General could have new information available to him in less than 42 hours at a time when he was out of the place of his work regarding an incident that was alleged to have taken place on December 23th, 2102.
Al-Jaafari pointed out that the Secretariat General tries to procrastinate on sending an investigation mission, “which raises more doubts on the attempt to politicize the issue to achieve the goal sought by some Western, Arab and regional countries, similar to what happened in Iraq before it was invaded.”
He referred to exchange of letters between the Syrian government and the UN Secretariat General as Syria has so far sent 9 letters in response to 8 letters from the Secretariat, which proves the Syrian government’s readiness to cooperate with the UN to unveil the truth about the crime which took place in Khan al-Assal through cooperation with a neutral and independent specialized technical mission.
He stressed that the Syrian government is still awaiting the team of experts to arrive at Khan al-Assal site to verify the accuracy of the information sent by the General Secretariat.
“We are still waiting to receive any other credible information on the other allegations…The Syrian government believes that the only way for the investigation mission to know the reality of what happened is to go to Syria to conduct investigation on the ground,” the Syrian Ambassador said.
Al-Jaafari referred in this context to terrorists opening bags containing “unknown powder” in the face of citizens they had gathered in Shabour neighborhood and the southern entrance of Saraqib town in Idleb countryside, causing a number of citizens to show symptoms similar to those caused by exposure to chemical weapons.
He added that what is most dangerous was that the terrorists transported the injured citizens to Turkish hospitals to use the incident to accuse the Syrian armed forces of using chemical weapons.
H. Zain/H. Said — SANA – 2/5/2013