Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the UK position on chemical weapons attack in Aleppo, Syria

Question: How would you comment on the statement by the UK FCO spokesperson on chemical weapons use in Aleppo?

Answer: The statement reflects the worst traditions of the modern UK diplomacy in both form and substance: no attempts are made to present any evidence supporting its allegations, instead phrases of little value, such as “likely”, “highly likely” or “highly unlikely”, are being used excessively.

What do we know about the incident in Aleppo? On November 24, Jabhat an-Nusra terrorists located in the Idlib de-escalation zone launched an attack against residential areas of Aleppo using shells with toxic substances. As a result, at least 73 people were taken to hospital with symptoms of acute chemical poisoning. That is why the government of Syria has sent letters to the UN Secretary General as well as the OPCW Director General calling for immediate investigation into the attack. The first group of experts has started its work already.

For two weeks no single comment on the incident had been made by the Foreign Office. Only faced with real possibility of its investigation by the OPCW, London has reacted with this awkward attempt to shield the guilty. Its statement reflects a clear intention to predetermine the experts’ findings, steering their work in a direction much sought-for by the US and their British allies. Such pressure on the international organizations is undignified.

We can not ignore the fact that the UK statement was issued simultaneously with the statement by the US Department of State and replicates it in substance. The lack of the UK’s own proper voice and independent position on a whole range of international issues, including the situation in Syria, is regrettable.