Friday 24 November 2017

Russia has 'proof' of rebel gas attack

Philip Sherwell New York Roland Oliphant Moscow and David Blair

RUSSIA was accused of being "completely fanciful" when the Kremlin claimed it had accepted evidence from the Syrian government that rebel groups were behind last month's poison gas attacks in Damascus.

Diplomats are trying to agree a United Nations resolution that would require Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons.

But there is still disagreement over who carried out the gas attacks on August 21. The US, Britain and France all blame Bashar al-Assad's forces, stressing the Syrian regime possesses the weapons used. The UN report on the attacks also disclosed that two missiles loaded with sarin nerve gas were launched from a base used by Assad's Republican Guard.

But Sergei Ryabkov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, said the Syrian regime had given him evidence implicating the rebels.

During a visit to Damascus, he denounced the UN report as "distorted" and "one-sided". A senior UN diplomat in New York said all available evidence made it "abundantly clear that it was the regime that did this". "To suggest otherwise, as the Syrians and Russians have done, is completely fanciful and shows wilful blindness to all the facts."

Tomorrow, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will adopt the US-Russia agreement on disarming Syria. The Security Council can then debate a resolution. Syria is supposed to declare its chemical weapons by Saturday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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