MOSCOW, April 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov voiced concerns Monday about reports of the recent use of chemical weapons in Syria, calling for an investigation into the matter.
“Reports that chemical substances have been used again and that there are several victims have alarmed us. We believe that any report or facts on the use of chemical weapons or their components should be investigated immediately,” Lavrov said.
Media reports indicated poison gas was used in an attack on Friday on the town of Kafr Zita, in northern Syria, killing two and injuring around 100 others.
The Syrian government implicated an al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel group, Nusra Front, in the attack. Opposition groups claimed, however, that government planes bombed the town with explosive barrels that produced thick smoke and led to cases of suffocation and poisoning.
“We put particular responsibility on the sponsors of the extremist opposition, which has not ceased attempts to disrupt the process of disarming Syria of its chemical weapons, or attempts to create yet another reason to demand military intervention, or in order to take control of chemical weapons or their components for terrorist activities,” Lavrov said.
Moscow has repeatedly voiced concerns over the actions of illegal armed groups in Syria. Earlier this month, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement urging the West to take more seriously the threat of Syrian militants attempting to stop the country’s chemical disarmament operation, which resumed in April after a forced break caused by terrorist attacks.
The civil war in Syria broke out following unrest that swept the Arab world three years ago, called the Arab Spring. According to United Nations’ estimates, over 130,000 people have died in the conflict, which has seen fierce battles between the Syrian army and Islamist militants, including foreign mercenaries and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups.