Western countries escalated their campaign against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, after the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) issued a report on Friday accusing Damascus of carrying a chemical weapon attack on Douma near the Syrian capital in 2018.
The report concluded that there are "reasonable grounds to believe that the Syrian Arab Air Forces were the perpetrators of the chemical weapons attack on April 7, 2018, in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic."
It indicated that at least one helicopter of the Syrian "Tiger Forces" Elite Unit dropped two yellow cylinders containing toxic chlorine gas on two apartment buildings in a civilian-inhabited area in Douma, killing 43 named individuals and affecting dozens more.
In response, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said Saturday that the OPCW report contained no evidence and denied the new allegations.
Syria denies using chemical weapons, but a previous joint inquiry of the UN and the OPCW found that the Syrian government used the nerve agent sarin in an April 2017 attack and has repeatedly used chlorine as a weapon, according to Reuters.
On Friday, the US State Department distributed a joint statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs James Cleverly, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.
The statement stated that the OPCW report marked the ninth instance of chemical weapons use independently attributed to the Assad regime by UN and OPCW mechanisms.
"Our governments condemn in the strongest terms the Syrian regime's repeated use of these horrific weapons and remain steadfast in our demands that the Assad regime immediately complies with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and relevant UN Security Council resolutions," read the statement.
They asserted that Syria must fully declare and destroy its chemical weapons program and allow the deployment of OPCW staff to its country to verify it has done so.
The report indicated that the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) received credible information, corroborated through multiple sources, that Russian forces were co-located at Dumayr airbase alongside the Tiger Forces.
The IIT also obtained information that, at the time of the attack, the airspace over Douma was exclusively controlled by the Syrian Arab Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces.
Although the ministers' statement did not directly accuse Russia of being involved in the chemical attack, it called on the Russian Federation to stop shielding Syria from accountability for its use of chemical weapons.
"No amount of disinformation from the Kremlin can hide its hand in abetting the Assad regime."
The statement noted that Russian military police helped the Syrian regime obstruct OPCW access to the site of the attack and attempted to sanitize the area.
Russian and Syrian troops also staged photographs later disseminated online to support its fabricated narratives of this incident.
The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to hold accountable the perpetrators of all chemical weapons attacks in Syria and beyond.
Meanwhile, the preparatory committee for the Arab and International Popular Campaign to Lift the Siege on Syria called on the Union of Arab Lawyers and all human rights organizations o study the possibility of prosecuting the US administration before the international courts for genocide and war crimes against humanity.
The committee announced that it would prepare a comprehensive scientific study on the effects of the Western blockade on economic, social, health, educational, and cultural aspects.
The Arab and International Popular Campaign to Lift the Siege on Syria was launched on December 28, with the participation of Arab parties, organizations, and figures that support the Syrian regime.