May 31, 2013

MOSCOW, SANA_ Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that his country is waiting for Turkey to provide clarification about arresting Jabhat al-Nusra-linked Syrian gunmen with sarin gas in their possession in the Turkish territories.

Speaking at a press conference in Moscow Friday, Lavrov expressed Russia’s disappointment that the UN did not quickly respond to the demand of an investigation into the incident of chemical weapons use in Khan al-Assal area near Aleppo.

“We feel great disappointment with the political games of the UN General Secretariat that it failed to respond to this demand with the possible accuracy and speed,” said Lavrov.

“They instead presented conditions that are, according to us, illogical and outside the rules of dealing,” he added.

“We have repeatedly and frequently warned that this issue could constitute different provocations, and therefore we insist on accurate search of any act involving chemical and toxic materials,” Lavrov told the reporters, adding that Moscow has welcomed the Syrian government’s demand of sending an expert group to investigate into the incident which took place near Aleppo city.

Lavrov pointed out that the Russian Foreign Ministry’s yesterday statement commented on the issue of the Jabhat al-Nusra gunmen who are detained in Turkey, saying “We are waiting for the Turks to provide information on the results which they came out with quickly and in full.” He stressed the need for a thorough investigation into such cases.

Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry called for accurate investigation regarding the disturbing news on seizing extremists carrying sarin gas in Turkey to ward off attempts by terrorists to use hazardous substances against civilians in Syria and to instigate an external interference.

“Moscow repeatedly drew attention to the very serious provocations by the terrorist and takfiri opposition groups regarding weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical weapons,” Spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Lukashevich, said in a statement Thursday.

He pointed out that these provocations aim “to open the door to armed foreign intervention in Syria, stressing that Russia sees its is totally impermissible to use chemical weapons.

“The news from Turkey unfortunately confirms that these warnings are not baseless,” Lukashevich added, stressing the importance to conduct an investigation to “know all the details of what happened to ward off the terrorists’ attempts to use chemical weapons against the civilians and instigate foreign intervention in Syria.”

Lukashevich recalled that the Syrian government has repeatedly stressed that it will not use chemical weapons, if it possesses any, inside Syria.

The Turkish media reported earlier that the Turkish intelligence seized 12 persons from Jabhat al-Nusra with links to al-Qaeda in Adana city in southern Turkey and confiscated 2 kg of toxic sarin gas, ammunition, several documents and digital information were in their possession.

Ghossoun/H. Said

Russia raps UN for playing ‘political game’ in Syria chemical probe

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)

Russian foreign minister has accused the United Nations of playing “political games” in investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that political games by the UN have prevented Moscow from investigating the alleged use of toxic substances by militants in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in March.

“We feel great disappointment with the political games of the UN General Secretariat that it failed to respond to this demand with the possible accuracy and speed,” said Lavrov, referring to a request by Damascus for an investigation into the use of chemical weapons by militants in Khan al-Assal area near Aleppo.

“They (UN) instead presented conditions (including demand for an expanded access to all the Syrian territories) that are, according to us, illogical and outside the rules of dealing,” Syrian official news agency SANA quoted Lavrov as saying.

The top Russian diplomat also said Moscow is waiting for Turkish officials to give more information about the confiscation of two kilograms of deadly nerve agent, sarin, in a string of raids on homes of militants affiliated with terrorist groups fighting against the Syrian government.

On March 19, at least 25 people were killed and many others were injured after militants fighting against the Syrian government fired missiles containing a chemical substance into Khan al-Assal. Syria’s call for a probe into the case hit a brick wall.

On May 6, head of the UN Commission of Inquiry Carla Del Ponte said that testimony from victims of the conflict in Syria suggests militants have used the nerve agent, sarin.

Sarin is a colorless and highly toxic nerve agent that can cause convulsions, paralysis and death within minutes if it is absorbed through inhalation, ingestion, or contact with skin or eyes.

Sarin is classed as a weapon of mass destruction and is banned under international law.