Last updated: 18 September, 2013

Russia will send UN evidence of rebel chemical attack

Moscow will send the United Nations information it received from Syria implicating rebels in last month’s chemical attack, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.

Lavrov’s deputy said earlier he had met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and received “evidence” from Damascus implicating the rebels in the August 21 gas attack, which the United States says killed 1,400 people and was perpetrated by the government.

Moscow will review the new materials and “of course, present them in the UN Security Council,” Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying.

He reaffirmed Russia’s position that the chemical attack on the suburb of Ghouta was likely a “provocation” by the rebels.

Russia has “evidence that reports of using chemical weapons reflect the fact that the opposition regularly stages provocations in order to bring strikes and intervention against Syria,” Lavrov was quoted as saying.

“There is a lot of (data) regarding the incidents that occurred in August in Ghouta near Damascus. We will be reviewing all of it in the Security Council.”

Deputy Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia was disappointed with the UN report into the chemical weapons attack published this week, calling it “politicised, biased and one-sided.”

Ryabkov is on a visit to Damascus for two days of talks to present the Syrian regime with the results of the agreement between Moscow and Washington reached in Geneva at the weekend to rid Syria of its chemical weapons.

The Russia-US agreement is aimed at warding off the threat of US-led military action as retribution for the chemical attack, which the West blames squarely on the regime.

Ryabkov said he assured the Syrian side that there was “no basis” for a UN Security Council resolution on the chemical weapons agreement to invoke Chapter VII of the UN Charter that allows the use of force and tough sanctions.

He said this could only be considered if the UN Security Council was able to confirm violations of the convention on chemical weapons. “This is a hypothetical situation.”

“It is especially important that some kind of political interests do not again appear, especially in New York (at the UN Security Council),” he added.