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Issue #1608      August 28, 2013

Chemical attack: “Rough work” of Syrian opposition

Russia has declared that according to its information, chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus had been used (on August 21) by opposition militants, and not the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The accusations directed at the government troops are based on unverified information. And the aggressive campaign in regional and Western media only confirms that this refers to a “prearranged provocation,” a special statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry said. It is not for the first time that such provocations have occurred.

Battles in the eastern suburbs of Damascus go on. But, as was found by Russian diplomats, the account of events have been distorted beyond recognition.

“Investigation of the reliability of the regional television stations’ reports” has shown the following, – the statement says: “Early in the morning of August 21, a homemade missile with a so far unknown chemical poison gas was shot in the direction of this district from the positions of the militants. It was similar to the missile used by terrorists on March 19, this year, in Khan al-Asal (near the city of Aleppo).”

Facts of the use of chemical weapons near Aleppo should be investigated by a special mission of the UN experts. It began its work in Syria on August 20.

Russian experts believe that the use of toxic gas sarin by non-government organisations is quite possible. That is exactly what the Japanese sect Aum Shinrikyo did in the Tokyo subway in March, 1995. Twelve people were killed then but according to various data, more than 5,000 people received irreparable damage to their health, Professor Gennady Prostakishin, an expert at the All-Russia Centre of Disaster Medicine said.

“I don’t know whether there is sarin in Syria, or not. Remember what happened to Saddam Hussein. Americans voiced complaints against him concerning sarin and other toxic agents, too. But there was nothing there. The same thing is likely to be happening here.”

On the whole, some Western experts doubt that it is sarin that is at issue. And, moreover, they call to treat with caution the footage posted on the Internet and allegedly made immediately after the attack.

“They show that people rendering first aid to the victims are not wearing protective clothing,” Jean Pascal Zanders, an expert on chemical and biological weapons at the European Union Institute for Security Studies wrote in his blog. “It cannot be so, as far as sarin is concerned. There would be many postprimary poisonings without protective clothing.”

The action in the suburbs of Damascus was committed at the very moment, when the UN Commission on investigation of the allegations concerning the possible use of chemical weapons started its work in Syria. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, it “resembles attempts to undermine the chances of convening the Geneva conference” on the Syrian settlement. Another meeting of Russian and American experts dedicated to discussion of preparations for the Geneva-2 is scheduled for August 28.

“The opposition has nothing to lose. It cannot win and it does all it can to force the West to intervene in the conflict, to convince the West that the regime is “bloody and inhuman,” expert of the Institute of Strategic Assessments and Analysis Sergei Demidenko says. He reminds us that “chemical attacks” on the part of the regime are invariably reported by TV channels, which are financed by sponsors of opposition fighters from the Persian Gulf countries.

“It has all happened before. As soon as America has declared that it would intervene in case chemical weapons were found in Syria, when the Qatari al-Jazeera channel had announced that it had already found it. As soon as the group of UN experts arrived in Syria in order to examine the data about chemical weapons, the Dubai Al Arabiya channel immediately reported that it had been used by the government troops. This is very rough work.”

On August 21, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting and urged a thorough investigation of the reports about the tragedy in the suburbs of Damascus. Russia also believes that a thorough investigation is necessary. And the UN experts already present in Syria are able to do it.

Information Clearing House

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