Last updated: 18 September, 2013

UN hits back at Russia claims of Syria bias

The United Nations on Wednesday hit back at Russian claims that experts who reported on the use of chemical weapons in Syria were biased.

“The terrible facts speak for themselves,” UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters, insisting that UN leader Ban Ki-moon has the “fullest confidence” in the team which reported this week.

Nesirky said the United Nations was checking with Russia’s UN mission on comments made by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov about the UN inspectors.

“On the face of it these reported remarks are an attempt to call into question the secretary general’s investigation team led by Professor Sellstrom and the credibility of its thoroughly objective report,” Nesirky said.

The United States and its allies have said the report by Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom and his team showed that President Bashar al-Assad’s force carried out an August 21 chemical weapons attack in which hundreds died. The UN team did not have a mandate to lay blame for the attack but said there was “clear and convincing” evidence of the use of chemical weapons.

Ryabkov, on a trip to Damascus, called the report “politicized, biased and one-sided.”

“The mission confirmed unequivocally and objectively that chemical weapons have been used in Syria,” Nesirky said.

“It detailed the types and trajectories of the rockets used to deliver their lethal payload that led to the deaths of so many civilians.

“The environmental and bio-medical samples demonstrated the widespread nature of the attack. The terrible facts speak for themselves,” the spokesman added.

“The secretary general has fullest confidence in the professionalism of his team and their work and findings.

“They have worked impartially and to the highest scientific standards despite the exceptionally difficult conditions of the war in Syria. They will continue to do so.”

Ban has said the inspectors will return to Syria “as soon as possible” to complete their investigation into other suspected chemical attacks.