On Friday, The Telegraph newspaper reported citing Syrian Brig. Gen. Zaher Sakat, who had fled the country four years ago, that Syria still had hundreds of tonnes of chemical weapons after it had handed over 1,300 tonnes of chemical weapons — what it called the country's entire arsenal — to the OPCW in 2014.
"The overall volume of chemical agents to be eliminated was estimated at 1,300 tonnes, while the general said yesterday that there had been 2,000 tonnes of chemical weapons [in Syria]. Since the figure of 1,300 tonnes was announced officially… why has the general said nothing about 2,000 tonnes for three years, 700 tonnes is not a small figure," Lavrov said.
According to Lavrov, it seems that the general defected in 2013, the year when Russia and the US reached a deal on Syria's chemical disarmament. He added that the Syrian government provided the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) with data on the quantity of the chemical weapons it possessed back in 2014; then the OPCW confirmed the information.
Lavrov added it is difficult to put 700 tonnes "in a vial" in a reference to US Secretary of State Colin Powell's demonstration of a vial which allegedly proved the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which turned out to be a lie, and which led to the invasion of Iraq.
"Any sober minded person understands that this general was motivated by either a carrot or a whip," Lavrov concluded.
Moscow demanded a thorough investigation into the incident, stressing that the international community should not accuse Syrian government before the investigation has been carried out.