Russia Defends Claim on Chemical Weapons Use by Syrian Rebels

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that the evidence indicating the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian opposition had been analyzed by Russian experts in line with strict international standards.

Russia has submitted to the United Nations a comprehensive study of soil samples taken from the site of a reported chemical attack by Syrian opposition forces outside the northern city of Aleppo in March. The study determined that the nerve agent sarin was used and that it was not “industrially manufactured.”

“We have handed over a full package of documents, over 80 pages, including photos and certain lists of geographical locations, procedures and results,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.

“We guarantee that the samples were taken by experts who did not lose sight of these samples until they delivered them to the laboratory,” he said, adding that the study the study was carried out completely in line with the criteria of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Both sides in the ongoing Syrian civil war have traded allegations of chemical weapons use. Earlier reports by foreign experts claimed that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on several occasions during the two-year conflict.

Those reports prompted the United States and the European Union to lift sanctions on weapons sales to the Syrian rebels.

Lavrov criticized the quality of those reports saying the samples analyzed by foreign experts were passed from “hands to hands” before being studied in laboratories and did not meet the OPCW standards.

He also said Russia was ready to disclose the results of its study to the public if the UN Security Council gave its approval.

“They [the results] are quite convincing, and I think this [the public disclosure] should answer many questions,” Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister concluded that the situation with the chemical weapons issue should not be used as a pretext for attaining certain geopolitical goals or “certain moves in diplomatic games.”

According to UN data, nearly 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict.

 

 

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