Russia: U.N. report ignores evidence on Syria’s chemical weapons

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Russia on Wednesday accused U.N. chemical inspectors of ignoring “very factual” evidence related to the Aug. 21 gas attack near the capital Damascus.

Evidence related to the deadly incident “was given to Mr. (Ake) Sellstrom who headed the group of U.N. inspectors,” Russia's deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said after talks with Syria's leadership in Damascus, AFP reported.

“We are upset that it did not receive adequate attention in the report,” he said in remarks aired on Russian television.

The United Nations has defended the report, saying its conclusion that rockets loaded with sarin gas were used in the attack should not be questioned, according to Reuters.

“The findings in that report are indisputable,” U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters. “They speak for themselves and this was a thoroughly objective report on that specific incident.”

France has dismissed the Russian criticism, with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius saying: “Nobody can question the objectivity of the people (inspectors) appointed by the U.N.”

He was speaking after talks with his Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo.

“The report cannot be seriously contested. It shows that the regime had and still has a significant chemical arsenal and that it used it,” Fabius said.

A senior French official said Fabius had delivered a similar message to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during talks in Moscow on Tuesday.

The official said that the Russians did not think “for one second” that the Aug. 21 attack was the work of anyone other than the regime forces, adding that Moscow was determined to sow confusion to help delay a U.N. Security Council resolution being prepared in reaction to Monday's report.

Russia said on Wednesday it will show the U.N. Security Council evidence it has received from Syria's government pointing to the use of chemical weapons by opposition groups in the Damascus suburbs, Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying.

“We will present all this in the U.N. Security Council, of course,” Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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