MOSCOW: The Syrian regime has handed Russia new materials implicating rebels in a chemical attack outside Damascus on August 21, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said after talks in Damascus.
“The corresponding materials were handed to the Russian side. We were told that they were evidence that the rebels are implicated in the chemical attack,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies after talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem.
Ryabkov also said Russia was disappointed with a UN report into the chemical weapons attack, saying it was selective and had ignored other episodes. “Without a full picture… we cannot describe the character of the conclusions as anything other than politicised, biased and one-sided,” he said.
On Tuesday the United States accused Russia of ignoring the facts surrounding the poison gas attack in Syria, highlighting tensions between the West and Moscow over how to eliminate the country’s chemical weapons.
Despite a weekend agreement between the Cold War rivals aimed at dismantling Syria’s chemical arsenal by mid-2014, the two sides remain poles apart in their assessment of the August 21 gas attack which left hundreds dead.
Russia insists the attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta was a “provocation” by opponents fighting Syria President Bashar al-Assad’s regime designed to trigger military strikes by the United States.
The United States and France maintain the attack was carried out by Syrian government forces, and believe an assessment by UN experts released on Monday backed their view.
On Tuesday, after meeting French counterpart Laurent Fabius in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeated Moscow’s allegation that the August 21 attack was carried out by Syrian rebels.