Kremlin Plays Down US Report on Chemical Weapons in Syria

MOSCOW, June 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is not convinced by a US report on the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces against rebels, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said on Friday.

“The Americans have tried to provide us with information on the use by the [Syrian President Bashar Assad] regime of chemical weapons, but I will be frank: The report does not seem convincing to us,” Ushakov said.

The Kremlin aide suggested Washington was trying to play up the fact that it had provided Moscow with the information. “Of course, the essence of this information has not been revealed, but I repeat, it is not convincing,” Ushakov said.

The White House said on Thursday it now believes with “high confidence” that Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons repeatedly during the two-year conflict there, and vowed to boost US aid to the armed opposition fighting to remove Assad from power.

Alexei Pushkov, head of Russia’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee, dismissed the US report on Syrian chemical weapon use as “a fabrication” earlier on Friday.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he welcomed the “clear US statement” and urged the Syrian regime to grant access to United Nations inspectors to investigate all the reports of chemical weapons use in the country – something the government has so far refused to do.

Both sides in the ongoing Syrian civil war have traded allegations of chemical weapons use, with government officials accusing opposition forces of using chemical weapons against Assad’s military in a March attack outside of the northern city of Aleppo.

Some 93,000 people are believed to have died since fighting broke out between Syrian government forces and rebels in March 2011, according to the latest UN figures.


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