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Published On: Sun, Apr 16th, 2017

Russia – Turkey Agree to Support OPCW Probe into Khan Sheikhoun Chemical Incident, but …

nsnbc : The Presidential Office of Turkey stated that Turkey’s President R. Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed latest developments in Syria in a phone conversation on April 13 and agreed to support an investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikoun in northern Syria.

Alleged Chemical Weapons victim_Idlib_Syria_Apr 2017The office of the presidency of President R. Tayyip Erdogan stressed that Erdogan condemns the use of chemical weapons as “the greatest crime against humanity”. Putin and Erdogan reportedly underlined the significance of joint efforts by Ankara and Moscow to continue the Geneva and Astana peace talks and agreed to work together to sustain the Syria ceasefire.

Putin and Erdogan reportedly also agreed that the normalization of ties between their two countries should be accelerated, according to the statement. Earlier, during a televised interview, Erdogan said he and Putin had agreed to support an investigation by the OPCW into the use of chemical weapons in northern Syria. The statement was a reference to the latest alleged chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria on April 4 that reportedly killed nearly 90 people.

Should Turkey live up to Erdogan’s concessions, it would be a surprise for many, as in depth journalistic investigations into previous use of chemical weapons in Syria repeatedly linked Turkey and Turkish – Saudi and U.S.-backed insurgents to the use of chemicals and chemical weapons.

Russia previously demanded and continues to demand examination of the incident on April 4 by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. A British delegation of the international chemical weapons watchdog said in a tweet that the organization’s director general has said its investigators already are testing samples and the mission is expected to report its findings in three weeks. The OPCW’s Fact Finding Mission investigates alleged attacks but does not apportion blame.

One “problem” with the OPCW’s testing of “samples” is that these samples have not been “sampled” by OPCW staff and that the chain of evidence is, to say the very least, highly questionable. The question Erdogan’s statement did not answer is “would Turkey fully support an investigation in which samples are sampled by OPCW themselves, in situ, with a well-documented chain of evidence?”

CH/L – nsnbc 16.04.2017

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