17 June 2013, 14:17

Red Cross denies reports of chemicals in Syria

2012 июль коллаж газ сирия газ сирия химическое оружие сирия

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has not confirmed reports about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.

A statement to this effect came today from Robert Mardini, ICRC’s Head of Operations for the Near and Middle East, as he spoke to Russian journalists at a Moscow conference, organized by the Red Cross and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Mr. Mardini said the Red Cross had no hard evidence that could prove either party in the conflict had used chemical weapons against their enemies.

He added ICRC volunteers had access to almost every Syrian region and vowed the Red Cross would raise this issue, should any proof of a chemical war emerge.

Assad has no need to use chemical arms - Russia

Russia said on Saturday there was no need for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to use chemical weapons against the rebels because his forces were making steady advances on the ground.


"The regime, as the opposition is saying out in the open, is enjoying military success on the ground," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters during a joint press appearance with his Italian counterpart Emma Bonino.

"What sense is there for the regime to use chemical arms - especially in such small amounts?" Lavrov asked.Russia said on Friday it was unconvinced by US allegations that Assad had used chemical weapons against his own people.

US President Barack Obama's administration said on Thursday it would boost military support for the opposition as a result. Russia has backed Assad's regime and has provided it with weapons.

Lavrov said it would be wrong for the US administration "to be sending signals" to the opposition that may scupper the chances of a peace conference being held in Geneva in the coming weeks.

He added that that a no-fly zone that Washington was reportedly thinking of implementing over a part of Syria near the Jordanian border "would in either case violate international law."

"We hope that our American colleagues will act in accordance with the implementation of the Russian-US initiative concerning preparations for an international conference on Syria," Lavrov said.

The so-called Geneva 2 talks are aimed at getting the two warring sides at the negotiating table for the first time.

The first conference in the Swiss city held last June failed to come up with a workable plan for transferring power to an interim government because it never specified a specific role for Assad.

Moscow has said that Assad's representatives were ready to attend the new Geneva talks and has faulted Washington for failing to secure a similar agreement from the rebels.

UK says Syrian regime used sarin against opposition at least twice

David Cameron has provided fresh detail from the joint intelligence committee setting out the credible evidence the UK has gathered showing that the Assad regime in Syria has used the "abhorrent agent sarin" to attack the opposition at least twice.

Britain said Friday it agreed with the United States' assessment that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons and called for a "strong, determined" international response.

Cameron told The Guardian newspaper he welcomed the US administration's "candid assessment".

He said it put "centre stage" a question which must be addressed: "What are we going to do about the fact that in our world today there is a dictatorial and brutal leader who is using chemical weapons under our noses against his own people?"

US provides UN with data on possible use of chemical weapons in Syria

The US has provided the UN with information to the effect that the Syrian authorities used chemical weapons against the rebels, the UN’s chief Ban Ki-moon said.

According to earlier media reports citing western diplomatic sources, the US was looking into the possibility of introducing a no-fly zone over Syria near the border with Jordan.

The US authorities have no doubts that the Syrian military used small quantities of chemical weapons against the rebels.

Considering the situation, the US is likely to respond by supplying weapons to the opposition forces in Syria.

Iran sends 4,000 troops to aid Assad in Syria - report

Iran will send 4,000 Revolutionary Guard troops to Syria to fight alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces, The Independent reported on Sunday.

The decision to send soldiers to Syria was taken last week prior to Friday's Iranian presidential election which saw cleric Hassan Rouhani defeat a number of more conservative candidates.

The report comes after the US announced on Thursday that it would begin to arm the Syrian opposition in the face of evidence that Assad used chemical weapons against rebels on multiple occasions.

The Iranian Shia troops are expected to bolster Assad’s defenses against the Sunni-led insurgency after Washington announced it would keep its F-16s and Patriots in Jordan to help establish a no-fly zone to aid Syrian militants.

The Independent cited Iranian sources as saying Sunday the deployment signaled Tehran’s intention to step up its efforts to preserve the government of President Bashar Assad.

The Islamic Republic’s heightened military commitment could reportedly extend to the opening up of a new front on the Golan Heights against Israel, prompting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to warn the fragile state of no-war between Tel-Aviv and Damascus was at risk.

“The ongoing military activities in the area of separation continue to have the potential to escalate tensions between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic and to jeopardize the cease-fire between the two countries,” Ban Ki-moon said.

The argument the Obama administration used to explain its sudden change of heart on the policy of not providing lethal aid to rebels was that the regime had allegedly crossed “a red line” by deploying chemical weapons against militants on four separate occasions.

On Saturday, the Pentagon said a detachment of F-16s and US Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems, which had been moved to Jordan for the ongoing joint Eager Lion military drills, would remain in the country once the war games wrapped up.

Washington also said it was considering a no-fly zone “possibly near the Jordanian border." Russia’s foreign office warned that any attempt to impose such a zone would be in clear violation of international law.

Voice of Russia, Interfax, The Guardian, AFP

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