The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has agreed to send investigators to Syria on a fact-finding mission related to last week’s accused “gas attack” in the Idlib Province. They will gather samples and interview survivors of the incident.
The OPCW investigators will be operating out of Turkey, at least to start with, and Turkey was quick to back the investigation. The Russian government also endorsed the planned investigation, urging the OPCW to not just investigate the site of the incident, but also the Syrian Air Base which was supposedly the origin of the attack.
US Ambassador Kenneth Ward reiterated that the US is convinced that Syria has chemical weapons. He offered no endorsement for the investigation, but rather condemned Russia again, accusing them of trying to “bury the truth.”
Russia has argued the incident was the result of Syria dropping conventional bombs on an al-Qaeda warehouse which had chemicals within, causing a release. The US has insisted Syria secretly kept chemical weapons from the 2013 disarmament and used those, attacking the Syrian airbase in retaliation.
Russia has been urging an investigation instead of just a quick rush to judgment, and US-Russia tensions have been soaring in no small part over this issue, with US officials sometimes expressing openness to an investigation, but all the while insisting they’ve already drawn their conclusion and accusing Russia of involvement, all the while conceding they have no evidence to that effect.