MOSCOW, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Russia's chemical warfare defense unit found militants in Aleppo, Syria, are using chemical weapons, the Russian Defense Ministry announced Friday.
The Russian troops found unexploded shells allegedly used by rebels, evidence of chemical weapons, in the southwestern suburbs of Aleppo known as the 1070 District. The area recently came under Syrian government control, although it continues to be shelled, and casualties arrive at hospitals choking, coughing and showing signs of visual problems, each an indication of chemical attack.
In a statement, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov confirmed the discovery Friday
"While conducting reconnaissance in the 1070 area, the officers of the scientific center of the Russian Troops of Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defense have found evidence of chemical weapon use by terrorists against the civilian population and Syrian servicemen. After conducting an express analysis in a mobile laboratory it was determined that the toxic substances that filled the militants' artillery ammunition were with high probability chlorine and white phosphorus."
Since September, Russia has warned chemical weapons might be used in Aleppo by anti-government militants who would then blame the Syrian government. Syrian U.N. envoy Bashar Jaafari said in September the Islamist extremist group Ahrar al-Sham was planning to attack civilians with white phosphorus artillery. On Sept. 16, an Islamic State attack in the northern Aleppo suburbs of Harbal and UmHosh, caused breathing problems in at least eight people, Iran's Press TV reported. Syrian state media reported in October that chlorine gas was fired into a government-held neighborhood of Aleppo, with hospitalized civilians exhibiting symptoms consistent with use of the gas.
The use of chemical weapons is prohibited under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria joined in 2013; under an agreement negotiated by Russia and the United States in 2013, Syria turned over its entire chemical weapons stockpile for destruction, and in January 2015 the intergovernmental group Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed all Syrian chemical weapons were destroyed.