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Syria: ‘Russia can probe chemical weapons charge’
April 26, 2013, 2:50 pm


The US has said that Syria has probably used chemical weapons against rebel forces on a “small scale” [AP]

Syrian information minister Omran al-Zoubi said Friday that Damascus would agree that inspections of the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria be conducted by Russian experts.

“If there is a need to investigate in a field, we’d offer that to be done by the Russian experts,” the visiting Syrian official told reporters.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that the UN team was ready to be deployed in 24-48 hours to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Zoubi said the chemical shelling in the town of Khan al-Asal near Aleppo was fired by terrorists based near the Turkish border and the ammunition could be shipped from Turkey.

“It was done by the groups, including al-Qaida, which have threatened to use chemical weapons against Syria. They have implemented their threat near Aleppo and resulted in casualties,” Zoubi said, citing 14 people killed and 50 wounded in that attack.

He noted that Syrian troops had neither chemical nor other weapons of mass destruction and blamed the United States for groundless allegations.

Dmitry Babich, political analyst with Voice of Russia feels that Syria has serious misgivings about weapons inspection teams from the West.

“I think the Syrian government does not trust the Western observers – and for a good reason. The experience of having Western weapons inspection missions in Iraq shows that they are extremely inobjective. Very often their presence is just a pretext for military intervention,” Babich told The BRICS Post.

The US has said that Syria has probably used chemical weapons against rebel forces on a “small scale” but emphasised that intelligence services were still not 100 per cent sure.

“Our intelligence community does assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria,” Caitlin Hayden, a US National Security Council spokesperson, said on Thursday.

Peter Lavelle, a senior Moscow-based journalist and the host of CrossTalk, a debate programme on the Russia Today TV network, says it is very important the Syrian authorities have asked Russia to investigate allegations that Damascus has used chemical weapons.

“Unfortunately, there are too many stakeholders in the region with a vested interest in seeing the situation in Syria deteriorate. Since the US and other western governments claim the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian authorities is a “red line,” it is of extreme importance that the Iraq scenario (the search for WMDs) is not repeated. Additionally, it is a positive sign to see again that Russia is backing dialogue and negotiations” Lavelle told The BRICS Post.

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron backed the US assessment on Friday when he said there was growing evidence of chemical weapons use.

“It’s extremely worrying that talks about chemical weapons started to spread in Britain and the United States right at the moment when the Syrian troops announced certain successes in cutting the rebels supply routes. The west is afraid that in a few weeks it will be impossible to intervene in Syria,” noted Babich.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies