Materials Implicating Syrian Government in Chemical Attack Prepared Before Incident – Russia
Materials implicating the forces of Syrian president Bashar Assad in chemical weapons use near Damascus were prepared prior to the alleged incident on August 21, the Russian foreign ministry said.
Moscow continues to monitor closely the event surrounding the“alleged” chemical attack near Damascus, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich, said in a statement.
“We’re getting more new evidence that this criminal act was of a provocative nature,” he stressed. “In particular, there are reports circulating on the Internet, in particular that the materials of the incident and accusations against government troops had been posted for several hours before the so-called attack. Thus, it was a pre-planned action.”
The Damascus chemical attack accusations indicate the launch of “another anti-Syrian propaganda wave” and, in this context, the calls on the UN Security Council to immediately use force in Syria “heard from some EU capitals” are “unacceptable”, Lukashevich said.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Assad’s government has demonstrated a “constructive approach” to the chemical weapons issue by allowing UN experts into the country.
But it’s alarming that the “same signals” aren’t coming from the Syrian opposition, which so far hasn’t displayed willingness to ensure the safety and efficient operations of UN investigators on the territory it controls, he said.
“This directly impedes the objective investigation of allegations of possible cases of chemical weapons use in Syria, which is called for by a number of countries and which the Russian side supports,”Lukashevich noted.
The Russian foreign ministry “strongly appeals to those who should put pressure on the opposition, making it take the necessary steps in order to ensure the full realization of the objectives of the international expert mission,” the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the UK has put the blame for the Damascus chemical attack on Assad’s forces, saying it thought the Syrian government had “something to hide.”
“I know that some people in the world would like to say that this is some kind of conspiracy brought about by the opposition in Syria,” William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, is cited as saying by Reuters. “I think the chances of that are vanishingly small and so we do believe that this is a chemical attack by the Assad regime.”
The reports of a chemical weapons use in the suburbs of the Ghouta region on the outskirts Damascus appeared in the pro-opposition media on Wednesday, August 21, coinciding with the arrival of the UN investigators to the Syrian capital.
The – rebels claimed that over a 1,000 people, including many children, were killed in the attack, with the government saying that the accusations were fabricated in order to cover up the opposition’s battle losses and undermine the work of the UN mission.
Syrian army finds chemicals in militants tunnels
Syrian army soldiers have found chemical agents in tunnels dug by the foreign-backed militants in a northeastern suburb of the capital, Damascus, Syrian TV says.
The discovery came after the government forces surrounded a sector of militant-held district of Jobar on Saturday.
“Army heroes are entering the tunnels of the terrorists and saw chemical agents,” Syria television said, adding, “In some cases, soldiers are suffocating while entering Jobar.”
It added that ambulances arrived in the region to rescue the people who were suffocating in Jobar and the area is now controlled by Syrian army forces.
The Syrian government also stated that the foreign-backed militants had carried out the recent chemical attack in Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar.
On Wednesday, Syria’s opposition claimed that hundreds were killed in a government chemical attack on militants strongholds in Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar before dawn.
The Syrian army has vehemently denied allegations that it used chemical weapons against militants in the suburbs of the Ghouta region, saying the accusations were fabricated to distract the visiting team of UN chemical weapons experts and to cover up militants losses…
Lebanon Thwarts Attempt to Smuggle Captagon to Syria
Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau thwarted on Saturday an attempt to smuggle a large quantity of Captagon into the neighboring country Syria, the state-run National News Agency reported.
Six trailer trucks, heading to Syria, in the Bekaa town of Saadnayel, east of Lebanon, were seized by the intelligence bureau.
The trailer trucks were accompanied by a Nissan Sunny with license plate number 104982/T.
Three Syrian men were aboard the Nissan vehicle identified as 51-year-old Yehia Mahmoud al-Mkahal, Sabei Adnan Srour, 27, and Abdul Rahman Khaled Srour, 21.
On March 12, security forces seized more than one million Captagon pills in a valley in the Bekaa region, reportedly worth millions of U.S. dollars, Naharnet website said.
US considers air war in Kosovo as precedent for Syria strikes: Report
In an effort to bypass the United Nations, national security aides to President Barack Obama are looking at the war in Kosovo in the late 1990s as a possible blueprint for military action against Syria.
Faced with the possibility of a Russian veto at the UN Security Council, President Obama is considering whether to order military strikes against Syria without a UN mandate, according to The New York Times.
In 1999, former president Bill Clinton used the endorsement of NATO and the pretext of protecting a vulnerable population to justify 78 days of airstrikes against Kosovo without seeking approval from the UN.
Obama indicated on Friday that doing so in Syria would require a robust international coalition.
“If the US goes in and attacks another country without a UN mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it, do we have the coalition to make it work?” Obama said in an interview with CNN.
In ongoing White House meetings, President Obama and senior officials from the Pentagon and the State Department are discussing a range of options, including airstrikes, for Syria after allegations emerged that the Syrian government was behind a recent chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs.
The Syrian government and the army categorically denied any role in Wednesday’s alleged chemical attack.
A senior administration official told the Times on condition of anonymity that the Kosovo precedent was one of many options being discussed in White House meetings on Syria.
“It’s a step too far to say we’re drawing up legal justifications for an action, given that the president hasn’t made a decision,” said the official. “But Kosovo, of course, is a precedent of something that is perhaps similar.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday that Obama had asked the Pentagon to prepare military options for Syria and that naval forces were being positioned closer to Syria in anticipation of a possible order by the president.
Meanwhile, in a statement released on Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry said evidence was mounting that the chemical attack was “clearly provocative in nature” and that footage posted online seeking to incriminate the Syrian government had been posted before the chemical attack actually took place.
It also accused the insurgents of “directly impeding an objective investigation” of the incident.
UN Under-Secretary-General Angela Kane arrived in Damascus on Saturday for talks aimed at establishing an investigation into Wednesday’s attack.
Iran Warns of Military Intervention in Syria
Iran stated on Saturday that there is “proof” that Syrian militants used chemical weapons in their war against the Syrian government, reassuring that “we are very concerned about information regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and we strongly condemn the use of such weapons.”
Iran and Syria flagsIranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Abbas Araqchi, was quoted by ISNA news agency as saying that there is proof terrorist groups carried out this action,’ Araqchi said in reference to Wednesday’s allegedly deadly attacks in the Damascus area.
Iran also warned against any Western military intervention in the Syrian conflict, after the United States suggested it was weighing up such a possibility.
“There is no international authorization for a military intervention in Syria. We warn against any actions or statements that could create more tension in the region. I hope that White House officials show enough wisdom not to enter into such dangerous tumult,” Araqchi added.
He further considered that “the provocative words of American officials or sending warships do not help to solve the problem in any way, but make the situation in the region more dangerous.”
“Iran has declared on several occasions that the crisis in Syria did not have a military solution,” Araqchi was quoted as saying.