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Russia suspects Syrian rebels have WMD

Sept. 25, 2013 at 11:07 AM   |   Comments

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Washington and Moscow have a common understanding on Syria, though Russia's foreign minister said he was concerned rebels may have illicit weapons.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Tuesday a team of weapons inspectors was headed back to Syria to continue its investigations. Inspectors were able to verify the chemical nerve agent sarin was used in a large-scale attack on a Damascus suburb in August. The United States accused the Syrian government of launching the attack, though inspectors were not mandated to assess blame.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said from the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting the U.S. and Russian governments believed all chemical weapons in Syria should be destroyed.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in The Hague, Netherlands, said last week started receiving weapons declarations from the Syrian government under the terms of a U.S.-Russian deal.

"There are serious concerns that the opposition might possess separate components of those harmful substances," Lavrov was quoted as saying Wednesday by state news agency RIA Novosti.

Russia has been at odds with Western efforts to censure Syria at the U.N. Security Council. It counts Syria as one of its main weapons customers.

Nevertheless, Lavrov said the Kremlin was interested in a negotiated settlement to the crisis.

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