WASHINGTON, September 19 (RIA Novosti) – US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a sharp rebuke to Russia on Thursday over its assertion that Syrian rebels were most likely behind the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus, saying a report issued by UN inspectors this week demonstrates there is no evidence to support Moscow’s claim.
“Thanks to this week’s long-awaited UN report, the facts in Syria only grew clearer and the case only grew more compelling,” Kerry told reporters at the State Department, adding that the UN report clearly shows that the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad carried out the attack.
Kerry’s comments followed comments earlier in the day by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said Russia “has every reason to believe” that the attack was a “provocation” using Soviet-produced munitions no longer in the Syrian army’s arsenal.
They also came as world leaders prepare to meet at the UN General Assembly next week, where Kerry said the UN Security Council must be “prepared to act” to hold Assad’s government accountable.
“It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out” and in “the strongest possible terms about the importance of enforceable action to rid the world of Syria's chemical weapons,” Kerry said.
The United States is pushing for a UN Security Council resolution that would allow the use of military force against Syria should Damascus fail to comply with the plan, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said this week. Lavrov, meanwhile, has called this option a nonstarter.
Kerry said the detailed evidence in the UN inspectors’ report – which concluded that sarin nerve gas was used in the Aug. 21 attack but did not assign blame – shows that it would have been virtually impossible for Syrian rebels to have used the chemical weapons.
Among the evidence he cited are the munitions, rockets and the nerve agent sarin that the inspectors discovered. The Assad government possesses all of these, while the rebels do not, Kerry said.
Opposition involvement, Kerry added, would mean that rebels secretly “went unnoticed into territory they don’t control to fire rockets they don’t have containing sarin that they don’t possess, to kill their own people, and then without even being noticed, they just dissembled it all and packed up and got out of the center of Damascus controlled by Assad.”
Lavrov said earlier this week that the UN report did not answer many questions and urged an additional UN investigation into allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria.