26 March 2013, 02:32

UN denies support to Russian proposal for investigating chemical attack in Syria

Постоянный представитель РФ в ООН Виталий Чуркин
Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin.
Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin.

Russia's proposal to send its expert as part of the Syria-bound commission tasked with investigating the alleged chemical attack near Aleppo was not supported by the United Nations Secretariat, said Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin, chairing the Security Council this month.

"As we were informed, the secretariat proceeds from the fact that representatives of the five permanent Security Council members need not be included in the commission. We find this logic unconvincing," said the diplomat.

Churkin expressed the belief that if representatives of the "five" (Russia, Britain, China, U.S. and France) joined the team; it could only boost its authority.

According to Churkin, Moscow still hopes the commission will take on experts from Russia and China, but the most important thing at this stage is not to delay the investigation any more.

Last week at the request of Damascus UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon opted to dispatch a group of independent experts to probe reports of an alleged chemical attack on the outskirts of Aleppo. According to the authorities, on March 19 opposition fighters detonated a chemical bomb. As a result, 25 people were killed and over 100 injured.

Russia poised to partake in UN probe into possible use of chemical weapons in Syria

Moscow insists that all the permanent members of the UN Security Council should take part in a UN probe into a possible use of chemical weapons in Syria, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov twittered on Monday.

He said that Russian chemists partaking in such a probe could add significantly to its objectivity.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the investigation after Damascus accused militants of using chemical weapons in the Syrian city of Aleppo on March 19.


'High probability' chemical weapons used in Syria 

There is a "high probability" that Syria deployed chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war, but final verification is needed, the chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee told CNN on Tuesday. 

"I have a high probability to believe that chemical weapons were used," Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We need that final verification, but given everything we know over the last year and a half, I would come to the conclusion that they are either positioned for use, and ready to do that, or in fact have been used."

Rogers and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, struck ominous tones in an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room" about the possibility that Syria had crossed what President Barack Obama has said was a "red line" that could lead to the United States getting involved militarily in the conflict.

Rogers' statement comes as the specter of chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian civil war emerged Tuesday, with the government and rebels each blaming the other for using such munitions.

In remarks earlier Tuesday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told Jake Tapper on CNN's "The Lead" that the president takes the issue of chemical weapons in Syria "very, very seriously."

If reports of chemical warfare are substantiated, McDonough told CNN, "this is a game changer, and we'll act accordingly."

Voice of Russia, RIA, TASS, Interfax, telegraph.co.uk

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