Syrian govt ready to cooperate with UN experts in chemical attack probe - Moscow
A handout image released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows smoke above buildings following what Syrian rebels claim to be a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, 2013. (AFP Photo/Shaam News Network)
The Syrian government is ready for “maximum” cooperation with UN experts working to clarify the alleged use of chemical weapon in attacks, Russia’s Foreign Ministry says. Syria will provide all materials related to the investigation.
Speaking on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said Moscow hopes that UN experts will conduct “objective investigation of all possible cases of use of chemical weapons on Syrian territory.”
"We hope that the results will clarify the issue and will help to dispel numerous speculations around the alleged use of the Syrian chemical weapons that simultaneously create a positive background for the moves towards the start of the political process of settlement of the Syrian crisis", he said.
The statement comes the day after a gas attack was reported by opposition activists in the capital, Damascus, killing according to various reports from dozens up to 1,300. However, according to Lukashevich no one has a confirmed data on the number of killed.
While rebel groups blamed the incident on President Bashar Assad's forces, the government suspects it was carried out by opposition to draw international attention to their cause.
The attack coincided with the visit of UN observers, coming to the country to investigate previous cases of chemical attacks in the war-torn country.
France has called on the international community to respond with force if it is proved true that the Syrian government was behind Wednesday’s chemical attack on civilians.
Echoing the French statement, Britain said its priority is to verify cases of chemical weapon use and added it cannot rule out any option to end bloodshed in Syria.
Germany earlier the day also demanded Syrian authorities to “immediately” grant full access to UN chemicals weapons experts investigating the attack.
Russian officials at the same time remain skeptical of the claims that the Syrian government was behind the gas attack.
Reports by “biased regional media” about alleged chemical weapons use near Damascus might be “a provocation planned in advance,” Lukashevich said on Wednesday. He added that there were previous reports by local media about chemical attacks that proved to be false.
“It draws attention to the fact that biased regional media have immediately, as if on command, begun an aggressive information attack, laying all the responsibility on the government,” he said.