PRESS RELEASE ON SITUATION AROUND SYRIA

AKP Phnom Penh, May 16, 2018 –

On 4th of May Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova issued the statements regarding the situation around Syria at briefing:
1. Developments in Syria
The negative consequences of the massive missile strike carried out by the United States, Britain and France against Syria on April 14 have continued to negatively affect developments in that country, though, as Russian military experts have said, this aggressive action was not of major importance militarily. Importantly, as we have already emphasised, there were no real reasons for this action – the Syrian Government forces did not use any chemicals. This was an imperious and crude provocation staged by the opponents of a peaceful political settlement in Syria.
To eliminate any doubts in this regard, Russia organised a briefing in the OPCW headquarters in The Hague on April 26. Russia did everything to enable residents of Douma – unintentional participants and witnesses of this frame-up – to attend this briefing. Some of them had testified to OPCW experts earlier from the scene. Incidentally, there were allegations that these people were taken out of Douma to prevent them from meeting the experts. There were many opponents of the briefing in the OPCW headquarters. They claimed that the briefing may disrupt the work of the experts. This is not true. Syrians themselves gave explanations to the experts, so their work on the scene was not disrupted in any way. The countries that do not represent international organisations or some coalitions on the ground, simply received an opportunity to have direct contact with the residents of this city.
Russia wanted to make this situation absolutely transparent, to tell the public the truth about what happened, to speak directly rather than indirectly. Regrettably, Western countries boycotted the event. Obviously, it is painful to hear the truth.
We continue facilitating the investigation conducted in Douma by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission, primarily for security purposes. As we understand, they are working in line with the plan. They have already taken samples from two facilities (depot and lab) that were mentioned in connection with the alleged chemical attack. We hope that the OPCW will complete its technical work and produce an unbiased professional report.
In the evening of April 29, several Syrian military facilities in the provinces of Hama and Aleppo were hit by missile strikes. The attack targeted the permanent deployment site of the 47th Syrian Army brigade to the south of Hama, a depot near Al-Nayrab Airport and Aleppo International Airport. The Syrian authorities blamed Israel for the attack.
The evacuation of the so-called “irreconcilable” militants from Eastern Qalamoun has been completed. On April 26, the last group of 1,500 militants and members of their families left for the north of Syria. In parallel, the Syrian authorities are conducting legal rehabilitation for the “repentant” so to speak and restoring socio-economic infrastructure in residential areas where there has been reconciliation.
Government forces continue the counter-terrorist operation in the south of Damascus. They ousted ISIS from several districts in the capital suburb of al-Ḥajar al-Aswad, forcing the terrorists to retreat as far as the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk.
In parallel, an agreement was reached with Jabhat al-Nusra militants in Yarmouk with the mediation of the Russian centre for the reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria. They are supposed to be sent to the Idlib province, and in exchange about 5,000 civilians will be able to leave the cities of Al-Fu’ah and Kafriya in Idlib, which are besieged by Jabhat al-Nusra.
2. Provocative questions by some Western media outlets during a briefing at the OPCW headquarters:
On April 26, Russia and Syria’s offices at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) organised a briefing for the OPCW member countries at its headquarters in The Hague, and a press conference for the media. The participants discussed the staged video of the “chemical attack” in the Syrian town of Douma made by the notorious White Helmets. To reiterate, the briefing was attended by Syrians who have involuntarily become the protagonists of this show and didn’t quite realise what was going on. There were children among them as well. As you may recall, this included Hassan Diab accompanied by his father and medical workers of the hospital where the White Helmets shot their video.
I would think that the sincerity and plainness with which the witnesses of this staged event shared their experience should leave no doubt about what really happened. However, unfortunately, as it often happens in the modern world, things look different in crooked mirrors, at least, many are doing their best to achieve this effect.
I would like to share with you some takeaways from this press conference, so as to dispel all doubts about the fake nature of these videos and the entire information campaign involving non-governmental organisations, journalists financed by Western governments and, unfortunately, foreign diplomats.
I would like to share with you several questions that the Western media asked the Syrians who arrived in The Hague in order to honestly tell about what happened to them.
Rupert Evelyn from the British ITV asked how much the participants of the briefing from Syria were paid for allegedly changing their testimony to support Russia, and how they were being intimidated. This is not a question. The journalists had the opportunity to ask these people any question, such as where were they at the time of the attack, did they feel a sting in their eyes (since it’s all about chemical agents), where did they run to, who did they talk to, how were they found, how they packed for The Hague, and whether this is their first trip abroad. However, this question sounded like an accusation – how much were you paid and how did they manage to intimidate you.
It was not the only question that, frankly, shook me. Anna Holligan from the BBC asked whether we thought about how a young boy would cope with international media and whether he would manage to overcome this trauma. The child was taken out of a country that has for many years been bleeding and torn apart by internal strife with the active participation of so-called outside powers. His coming to The Hague and the opportunity to tell everyone what he saw and heard is referred to by the Western media as “psychological trauma.”
I heard the advice offered following this press conference that the Syrians should have been “properly prepared.” No one prepared them. They suffered and experienced so much that they were ready for an absolutely honest and sincere conversation. The questions that they were asked leave no doubt that this is part of a campaign of intimidation – since British journalists brought it up – and accusations against people who sincerely wanted to share what happened to them.
Unfortunately, this is a perfect example of journalists acting like tools of propaganda. If you want to see propaganda, look no further. Once again, they were not representatives of government bodies defending their position, but journalists who are supposed to be independent and who had a unique opportunity to talk with eyewitnesses.
To reiterate, no one worked with the Syrians to prepare them for the interview, and they were available for interviews and questions.
A full video of the briefing has been posted on the websites of the Foreign Ministry and our foreign missions.
3. Accusations against Russia in connection with the alleged chemical attack in Douma.
We continue to be accused of participating in the chemical attack that allegedly took place in Douma, Syria, on April 7. For all its absurdity, and despite clearly being staged, the campaign does not abate. We have repeated many times that we are not saying anyone should be taken at their word, but rather that there should be a thorough investigation of what happened in Douma, including by the OPCW. Unfortunately, all the so-called “experts” do not have any factual information from the ground, even that which we are ready to provide, preferring instead to rely on the White Helmets’ fake materials.
I would like to recall an example from recent history.
On August 6, 2007, Georgian leadership accused Russia of launching a missile strike at a radar station near the town of Gori. Local television channels showed President Mikheil Saakashvili and other leaders inspecting fragments of an unexploded missile found near the Tsitelubani village. Based on this broadcast, a group of “independent experts” issued a statement that contained accusations against Russia, based on one-sided and unverified information provided by Saakashvili’s team. This group refused to contact Russian experts. At the time, this staged incident aggravated relations. Today, the White Helmets and other groups in Syria are doing something similar, but on a much larger scale.
In 2007, a group of Russian experts was sent to Georgia to join the investigation. The data they collected refuted the version of Saakashvili’s team. Saakashvili refused to cooperate further and promptly destroyed the missile’s central section, which was the main piece of evidence.
The conclusions drawn by the international community leave no doubt about who committed aggression and how. Unfortunately, the aggression was launched by Saakashvili against South Ossetia. Let us hope that these tragic pages of history we all witnessed will not repeat, although we are seeing just the opposite.

Source: Embassy of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Cambodia

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