Published time: August 21, 2013 15:44
Edited time: August 21, 2013 16:53
A handout image released by the Syrian opposition’s Shaam News Network shows a man taking the body of a child wrapped in shrouds from a line of victims which Syrian rebels claim were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, 2013. (AFP Photo / Daya Al-Deen)
Reports by “biased regional media” about alleged chemical weapons use near Damascus might be “a provocation planned in advance,” says Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich.
“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,” Lukashevich said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, citing its sources, said that a homemade rocket carrying unidentified chemical substances had been launched from an area controlled by the opposition.
“A homemade rocket with a poisonous substance that has not been identified yet – one similar to the rocket used by terrorists on March 19 in Khan al-Assal – was fired early on August 21 [at Damascus suburbs] from a position occupied by the insurgents,” Lukashevich said.
The diplomat stated that it seems as though it was “a provocation planned in advance.” The “criminal action” near Damascus coincided with the beginning of UN experts’ work in Syria – which speaks in favor of such a conclusion.
In Moscow’s view, the latest possible “provocation” might be the opposition’s attempt to get support from the UN Security Council and undermine the Geneva peace talks on Syria.
Conflicting reports emerged of recent chemical weapons use in Syria.
This comes on the same day that the UN inspectors arrive in Damascus to investigate allegations of use of toxic arms.
The casualty figures range from dozens to almost 1,300 deaths.
The chief UN chemical weapons investigator Ake Sellstrom is currently discussing the alleged chemical attack with the Syrian government.
UN Security Сouncil is to hold emergency meeting on alleged Syria gas attack at 1900 GMT on Wednesday.
Lukashevich pointed out that similar reports about Syrian authorities allegedly using chemical weapons have popped up before. However, the information has never been confirmed.