Syrian ‘proof’ of rebel chemical use

September 18, 2013
By
Deeter Does Wirless

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem (R) meets Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in DamascusMr Ryabkov has been discussing the situation with Syrian officials

Syria has given Russia new “material evidence” that Syrian rebels used chemical weapons in an attack on 21 August, a Russian minister has said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also said a report by UN inspectors on the alleged use of chemical weapons was politicised, biased and one-sided.

He said the inspectors had only investigated the attack in Ghouta on 21 August, not three previous incidents.

The UN team found the nerve agent Sarin was used in the Ghouta attack.



Ake Sellstrom (centre), the head of a UN chemical weapons team in Damascus. Photo: 30 August 2013

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The report did not apportion blame for the attack but Western nations blame the government forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Damascus – backed by Russia – says opposition forces are to blame.

Meanwhile the chief UN weapons inspector, Ake Sellstrom, has told the BBC it will be difficult to find and destroy all of Syria’s chemical weapons, but he believes it is “doable”.

“Of course, it will be stressful work,” he added.

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Analysis




The war of words over the use of chemical weapons in Syria – much of it aimed at saving face – was predictable.

But the fact is that Russia persuaded Syria to declare its weapons and let them be destroyed. What counts now is what actually happens, not what people say.

The first agreed deadline comes on Saturday, by which time Damascus is supposed to provide an inventory of its chemical arsenal. If that slides, doubts about its sincerity – and Moscow’s credibility – will start to grow.

Before and since the Kerry-Lavrov agreement, Syria and Russia argued publicly that the rebels had used chemical weapons, either in the 21 August attack or elsewhere. But that did not prevent Syria agreeing to disarm at Moscow’s behest.

Mr Sellstrom said much depended on whether the Syrian government and the opposition were willing to negotiate.

‘Distorted’ report

In an interview with Russian media, Mr Ryabkov said the Assad government had given him new evidence that rebel forces had used chemical weapons.

He did not give any details of what those weapons were.

“Just now we were given evidence. We need to analyze it,” he told RT news organisation.

Mr Ryabkov also criticized the UN report, saying it 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 21 August”.

“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 told the RIA news agency.

The UN inspectors were originally mandated to go to Syria to investigate three alleged chemical weapons attacks – at Khan al-Assal, Sheikh Maqsoud and Saraqeb.

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The Russians and the Syrians are fighting on multiple fronts at the moment in the PR war”

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But after the 21 August attack in Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, their instructions changed – and the report they produced was based purely on that incident.

In response to Mr Ryabkov’s comments, Mr Sellstrom told the BBC he thought Russia was not criticising the report itself but the process, which he described a political matter and therefore not his remit

“What I think – as I interpret it – is that there are other allegations by the Syrian government which have to be looked into,” Mr Sellstrom said.

A further UN report on the original locations of the mandate is due to be released in October.

Deeter Does Custom Designs

The UN experts were not required to apportion blame in their report. But Human Rights Watch says the document reveals details of the attack that strongly suggest government forces were behind the attack.

Human Rights Watch used the details about the direction some of the rockets are thought to have come from, and worked out their trajectory. Their results indicated that the rockets were likely to have come from an area near a well-established military base.

Estimated range and trajectories of rockets in 21 August chemical attack
UN divided

On Tuesday the five permanent UN Security Council members – France, the UK, the US, Russia and China – met in New York to discuss a resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons.

They were discussing a draft resolution put forward by the UK, France and the US.

Such a document is seen as a key step in a US-Russia brokered plan under which Syria will disclose its arsenal within a week and eliminate it by mid-2014.

However, there have already been key disagreements over the wording.

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

Deeter Does Custom Designs

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Image of UN note stating: THE SECRETARY -GENERAL CONDEMNS IN THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE TERMS THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that any UN resolution on the Syrian chemicals issue should not contain the threat of military action.

A resolution under Chapter VII of the UN charter permits military action if other measures do not succeed. Chapter VI requires a purely negotiated solution.

The BBC’s Daniel Sandford in Moscow says Russia has delivered a promise from Syria to give up its chemical weapons, and it seems that at this stage Moscow does not feel like giving the Western allies anything more.

Russia and China have three times blocked Western-backed Security Council resolutions against Mr Assad.

More than 100,000 people have died since the uprising against President Assad began in 2011.

Millions of Syrians have fled the country, mostly to neighbouring nations. Millions more have been internally displaced.

Deeter Does Wirless

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24140475#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa The feed :

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