A man holds the body of a dead child among bodies of people activists say were killed by nerve gas in the Ghouta region, in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus August 21, 2013. (Reuters/Bassam Khabieh)
Materials implicating the forces of Syrian president Bashar Assad in chemical weapons use near Damascus were prepared prior to the alleged incident on August 21, the Russian foreign ministry said.
Moscow continues to monitor closely the event surrounding the“alleged” chemical attack near Damascus, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich, said in a statement.
“We’re getting more new evidence that this criminal act was of a provocative nature,” he stressed. “In particular, there are reports circulating on the Internet, in particular that the materials of the incident and accusations against government troops had been posted for several hours before the so-called attack. Thus, it was a pre-planned action.”
The Damascus chemical attack accusations indicate the launch of “another anti-Syrian propaganda wave” and, in this context, the calls on the UN Security Council to immediately use force in Syria “heard from some EU capitals” are “unacceptable”, Lukashevich said.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Assad’s government has demonstrated a “constructive approach” to the chemical weapons issue by allowing UN experts into the country.
But it’s alarming that the “same signals” aren’t coming from the Syrian opposition, which so far hasn’t displayed willingness to ensure the safety and efficient operations of UN investigators on the territory it controls, he said.
“This directly impedes the objective investigation of allegations of possible cases of chemical weapons use in Syria, which is called for by a number of countries and which the Russian side supports,”Lukashevich noted.
The Russian foreign ministry “strongly appeals to those who should put pressure on the opposition, making it take the necessary steps in order to ensure the full realization of the objectives of the international expert mission,” the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the UK has put the blame for the Damascus chemical attack on Assad’s forces, saying it thought the Syrian government had “something to hide.”
“I know that some people in the world would like to say that this is some kind of conspiracy brought about by the opposition in Syria,” William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, is cited as saying by Reuters. “I think the chances of that are vanishingly small and so we do believe that this is a chemical attack by the Assad regime.”
The reports of a chemical weapons use in the suburbs of the Ghouta region on the outskirts Damascus appeared in the pro-opposition media on Wednesday, August 21, coinciding with the arrival of the UN investigators to the Syrian capital.
The Islamist rebels claimed that over a 1,000 people, including many children, were killed in the attack, with the government saying that the accusations were fabricated in order to cover up the opposition’s battle losses and undermine the work of the UN mission.