Syria hands Russia proof ‘rebels’ behind chemical attack

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SYRIA has handed over ‘material evidence’ to Russia proving that foreign-backed terrorists were behind a recent chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus.

The evidence was handed over to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov yesterday, who met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem and President Bashar Assad in Damascus.

Ryabkov said: ‘Just now we were given evidence. We need to analyse it.’

He also criticised the UN report, saying that Russia is disappointed with its ‘biased’ and ‘politicised’ nature.

‘We are unhappy about this report, we think that report was distorted, it was one-sided, the basis of information upon which it is built is not sufficient and, in any case, we would need to learn and know more on what happened beyond and above that incident of August 21,’ Ryabkov said.

‘We are disappointed, to put it mildly, about the approach taken by the UN secretariat and the UN inspectors, who prepared the report selectively and incompletely,’ he added.

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the UN report had produced no evidence that Syrian troops carried out the attack and that Russia believed the foreign-backed militants were behind it.

Lavrov stated that the report proved that chemical weapons had been used, but it failed to answer a number of questions Moscow had asked, such as whether the weapons were produced in a factory or were homemade.

‘We have very serious grounds to believe that this was a provocation,’ Lavrov said.

On Tuesday evening, the five permanent UN Security Council members (US, UK, France, Russia and China) met in New York, but failed to agree a draft resolution put forward by the UK, France and the US on Syria’s chemical weapons.

France, the UK and US want a resolution containing the threat of military action but Russia opposes this.

Meanwhile, Russia’s permanent UN representative has called for the ‘immediate return’ of UN inspectors to Syria to conduct additional investigations into last month’s use of chemical weapons in the country.

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the UN inspection mission should also investigate ‘the incident on March 19 near Aleppo as well as incidents of intoxication of Syrian government troops on August 22 and 24-25.’

‘We hope that the full implementation of the mandate of (Swedish professor Ake) Sellstrom’s mission will give an objective picture of the events in Syria,’ Churkin added.