Russia says it has evidence rebels behind Aleppo chemical attack

Sept. 5, 2013 at 3:42 PM
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MOSCOW, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Russia said it has a report detailing what it says is evidence that Syrian rebels were behind a deadly chemical attack in an Aleppo suburb in early 2012.

In a statement on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website Wednesday, Russia said the report was delivered to the United Nations in July and includes scientific analysis of samples Russian technicians collected at Khan al Asal, site of the alleged attack, the McClatchy Newspapers reported Thursday.

The report itself has not been released.

Russia said its investigation of the March 19 incident was conducted under strict protocols established by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The post said samples Russian technicians collected were sent to OPCW-certified labs in Russia.

The statement also warned the United States and its allies against conducting a military strike against Syria until the United Nations completes its investigation into the Aug. 21 chemical attack in Damascus suburbs. The United States said its evidence indicates forces loyal to President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons in the August attack.

The statement also raised the specter of U.S. claims of weapons of mass destruction being hidden in Iraq that later proved false.

"The Russian report is specific," the ministry statement said. "It is a scientific and technical document."

U.S. officials did not immediately comment, McClatchy said, which reported that independent chemical weapons experts it had contacted said they had not had time to read the Russian document.

A U.N. team spent four days late last month investigating the Aug. 21 incident. Samples it collected are being examined at OPCW labs in Europe. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged the United States to delay any response until results of the U.N. investigation are known.

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