MOSCOW, August 26 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday slammed Western countries for suggesting the Syrian government carried out a chemical attack earlier this month, without offering convincing proof to back up these claims.
“Any reports about the use of chemical weapons in Syria must be investigated most thoroughly and professionally, and the results presented to the UN Security Council,” Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow.
“Participants of the G8 summit who renege on this agreement are de-facto trying to take on the functions of both the investigators and the Security Council,” Lavrov said. Russia failed to resolve its differences over Syria with its partners – including the US, France and Britain – at the G8 summit in June.
A chemical attack killed 355 in Syria last Wednesday, according to Doctors Without Borders. The regime of President Bashar Assad and the local insurgency, locked in a bloody standoff since 2011, blamed each other for the attack.
Officials in the US and France were cited as saying that Assad’s government was behind the attack.
US President Barack Obama said previously that the US would intervene in the Syrian conflict in the event of a chemical attack. British media reported the country’s forces are already preparing for a joint naval operation with the US against Assad’s forces.
“Washington, London and Paris have officially stated they have irrefutable proof that the Syrian authorities are guilty [of the chemical attack], but they cannot present this proof,” Lavrov said Friday.
A team of UN experts is currently investigating the attack in Syria on the ground, though their mandate is limited to confirming that the attack took place, not establishing who was behind it.
The incident gave an advantage to those who want to trigger foreign military action against Assad’s regime, Lavrov said, though he added it was up to the UN to establish the real perpetrators.
“Was it really in the interests of the Syrian government to use chemical weapons right when the [UN] inspectors are working there?” Lavrov said.
(The story was updated to include background, Lavrov comments on Syrian government’s involvement in the attack.)