MOSCOW, Russia – Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Wednesday said that his country will share with the United Nations Security Council evidence it has received from Syria that shows rebels used chemical weapons in the Damascus suburbs.
The Syrian government’s proof that was shared with Moscow comes two days after a UN report concluded the nerve agent sarin was used in the attack in Damascus on Aug 21, in which hundreds were killed.
The US and its Western and regional allies have blamed the Syrian government for using chemical weapons. But, President Bashar al-Assad and one of his closest allies Russia have insisted that rebels were responsible.
Lavrov said in Moscow that the report by UN investigators did not dispel Russia’s suspicions that rebels were behind the poison gas attack
He was speaking to journalists after one of his deputies was given unspecified evidence by the government while visiting Syria.
“We will present all this in the UN security council, of course,” Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying.
He said there was plenty of evidence that pointed to rebel involvement in chemical attacks, including the Damascus assault.
“We will discuss all this in the Security Council, together with the report which was submitted by UN experts and which confirms that chemical weapons were used. We will have to find out who did it,” he said.
Russia with a veto power in the Security Council is likely to subvert any US move on a possible military action against Syria citing such doubts about proof of culpability.
“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,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told the state-run Russian news agency RIA in Damascus.
“Without receiving a full picture of what is happening here, it is impossible to call the nature of the conclusions reached by the UN experts … anything but politicized, preconceived and one-sided,” said Ryabkov, who met Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moualem late on Tuesday and Assad on Wednesday.
An elusive consensus on who was behind the attack has complicated discussions among Security Council members Russia, China, the United States, Britain and France.
“We are surprised by Russia’s attitude because they are calling into question not the report, but the objectivity of the inspectors,” French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said in Paris.
“I don’t think anybody can call into question inspectors that have been appointed by the UN,” said Fabius, who met Lavrov in Moscow Tuesday and said several aspects of the UN report clearly pointed to Syrian government involvement.