Roundup: Douma witnesses from Syria testify against White Helmets video

Source: Xinhua| 2018-04-27 04:39:32|Editor: yan
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THE HAGUE, April 26 (Xinhua) -- A dozen of witnesses from the Hospital of Douma in Syria, including 11-year-old Hassan Diab, told reporters on Thursday that the video in which they are seen as victim of chemical weapons, rescuing personal or passer-by, was a fake one produced by the controversial "White Helmets", or the Syrian Civil Defense group.

"We were at the basement. We heard people shout that we should go to a hospital. We went through a tunnel. At the hospital they started pouring cold water on me. I don't know why," little Hassan told a press conference called by the Russia delegation to the Hague-based global chemical arms watchdog, the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Behind him on the big screen, Hassan was in the footage released by the White Helmets on April 7, all wet, shivering, frightened.

His father Omar Diab told press that in the video nobody has been poisoned and everyone is healthy. "The children were taken without explanation. After that we learnt it was fake. We never saw any poison or chemical agents, neither I nor my family," he said.

Doctors, nurses and workers from the hospital said people did suffer from respiratory problems, but the symptoms resulted from contacts with smoke and dust caused by the collapse of bombed buildings.

"Some people shouted 'chemical weapons', 'chemical weapons'. That caused panic and chaos," said Muwaffak Nasrim, a worker of emergency care in the hospital. "But no one had any symptom of chemical weapons exposure. People are released after treatment. No one died in the hospital that day."

Aleksandr Shulgin, Russia's permanent representative to the OPCW, called the "crude staged action in this fake video" a "prepared provocation". "Any reference to this video as evidence of use of chemical weapons in Douma is null and void," he said.

He reiterated that the military attack jointly launched by the Untied States, the United Kingdom and France against Syria on April 14 was a violation against international law.

"Russia and Syria urged the OPCW to dispatch a team to do the investigation. It is common sense that we should wait for the results of the investigation," said Shulgin. "But while OPCW experts were set to arrive in Syria, the American, the British and the French launched missiles. This is a clear disrespect of international law and of the OPCW."

Before the press conference, Russia and Syria organized a briefing with the witnesses at the OPCW headquarters.

"Unfortunately, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the European Union, NATO members and Asian allies of the USA did not come. They are afraid to look at the truth in face," said Shulgin.

Seventeen nations, opposed to the Russian-Syrian briefing, issued a joint statement saying Russia and Syria's briefing at OPCW "is nothing more than a crude propaganda exercise".

The authenticity of the information gathered to date on the chemical attacks that occurred in Duma on April 7 is unassailable, said the U.S., Britain, France and their supporters in the joint statement.

The signatories say they expect this information to be tested and verified by the Fact-Finding Mission through its independent examination. Russia and Syria also told press that they fully support the work of the OPCW.

On Wednesday, the OPCW advised the Russian delegation that these witnesses should be first interviewed by the Fact-Finding Mission and recommended to let the FFM completes its work before organizing this briefing. The Russian delegation said its intention was not to interfere with the FFM's work.

OPCW inspectors are currently conducting investigation in Syria into what happened in Douma on April 7. The White Helmets said dozens of people had died that day. The West alleged that Syrian forces had carried out an attack with chemical weapons and launched a retaliatory attack a week later.