Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Russia to provide UNSC with data for chem weapons' use by Syrian rebels

Russia to provide UNSC with data for chem weapons' use by Syrian rebels
September 18, 2013
Russia will provide the UN Security Council with data proving that the chemical weapons near Damascus were used by the opposition, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said. The materials were handed to Russia by the Syrian government of Bashar Assad.

“We have plenty of reports on chemical weapons use, which indicate that the opposition regularly resorts to provocations in order to trigger strikes and intervention against Syria,” Lavrov said. “There’s a lot of data. It’s widely available on the Internet. This data is presented in the report, which our experts put together in association with the use of chemical weapons in Aleppo in March this year. There’s also plenty of data on the incidents that occurred in August in Ghouta, near Damascus.”

“All of this will be considered in the Security Council, together with a report, which was submitted by UN experts, confirming that chemical weapons were used,” he added.

The minister stressed that “it’s yet to be established,” which side in the Syrian conflict – opposition or government – is responsible for the use of chemical weapons.

The Russian FM said that the Syrian authorities handed the data to Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, who is currently on a visit in Damascus.

“I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m sure that the experts are going to work with it and, of course, we’ll provide it to the security council,” he added.

‘No Russian chemical weapons in Syria’ – Kremlin

Neither Russia, nor the USSR has ever supplied chemical weapons to any other foreign state, Sergey Ivanov, the head of the Kremlin’s administration, stressed.

"Nobody disputes the fact that the Soviet Union has never shipped warheads armed with sarin to Syria or any other country,” the official is cited as saying by Interfax-Ukraina news agency.

The statement comes after the report by the UN experts in Syria claimed that a rocket found on the site of the August 21 chemical attack near Damascus had writings in Cyrillic on it.

According to Ivanov, the ammunition used in the chemical attack in Ghouta, near the Syrian capital was most likely “backyard produced.”

Previously, US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, said that there’s plenty of chemical arms in the Syria, which was supplied to the country by the Russians.

The US and its allies blame Assad forces for using sarin gas against civilians in a chemical attack near the Syrian capital, Damascus, on August 21.

Despite the Syrian government denying the accusations and no proof of its guilt being presented by Washington, Obama announced that there would be “limited military” action against Assad because the use of chemical weapons can’t be tolerated.

But the US strikes were put on hold after a Russian proposal to hand the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal to international inspectors for destruction, a plan that received the full backing of Assad’s government.

The civil war, in which the Syrian government is fighting what it calls Western-backed Islamist militants, has been raging in the Arab country since March 2011, and has claimed over 100,000 lives, according to UN estimates.

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