Syria crisis: Regime has given Russia 'proof' of rebel chemical weapon use

Foreign Minister Lavrov remains at odds with French over culpability for deaths

Paris

Syria has turned over "material evidence" to Russia which shows that a chemical weapons attack in Damascus was carried out by the rebels, a Moscow diplomat has claimed.

Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister also accused the report carried out by UN inspectors of being “distorted” and “one-sided”, according to the BBC.

The report suggests the rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were fired from the regime's elite military units base in mountains overlooking Damascus. A senior UN diplomat in New York says details on scale of the attack, the rockets used and trajectory data cited in the report make it "abundantly clear" that the Syrian regime was behind the attack. The diplomat said: "There isn't a shred of evidence in the other direction."

The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because some of the material was from private meetings. 

In an interview with RT, Mr Ryabkov said the Assad regime had provided Russia with evidence that chemical weapons had been used by rebels, and said “we need to analyse it”.

France has since rejected the claims , with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius telling a press conference in Paris that: “Nobody can question the objectivity of the people (inspectors) appointed by the UN.”

Russia continues to insist that opposition forces carried out the murderous gas attack near last month  - throwing into doubt the prospect of a rapid UN deal on Syrian disarmament.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking after talks in Moscow with his French counterpart, said that he had “serious grounds” to believe that the gas attack confirmed by UN inspectors on Monday was a “provocation” by rebels.  Mr Lavrov once again rejected Western demands that a UN security council resolution on Syrian chemical disarmament should include an automatic right to use force if Damascus fails to comply.

He said that Moscow would stick by its interpretation of the wording of the deal that he reached with the United States in Geneva last weekend.  Mr Lavrov said that military force, under Chapter Seven of the UN charter, might be possible if Syria failed to surrender its chemical arsenal – but only after a second security council vote.

Western governments fear that such a two-step agreement – although implied by the ambiguous wording of the Geneva deal – would allow Moscow to veto international backing for punitive strikes even if Syria drags its feet. This would create domestic, political embarrassment and legal difficulties for Washington and Paris if they went ahead with their “suspended” threat of punitive air strikes. 

Under the agreement reached between Mr Kerry and Mr Lavro in Geneva, Damascus must submit a full inventory of its arsenal by the end of this week, admit international inspectors by November and surrender its chemical weapons by the middle of next year. After much haggling, the Russians agreed wording which threatens “ consequences” if Syria failed to comply but – according to Moscow - stipulates that there must be  a second UN resolution before any punitive action.

The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said before he left France that he hoped to persuade Mr Lavrov to accept the harder line demanded by the US, Britain and France after talks in Paris on Monday. He also said that the UN inspectors’ report, released on Monday, would force Moscow to abandon its previous claims that rebels were responsible for the gas attack near Damascus on 21 August.

In the event, Mr Fabius made no progress on either point. The two men told a press conference in Moscow  that they had been unable to bridge their differences – casting doubt on the prospects for a speedy UN security council resolution.

“We have very serious grounds to believe that the [gas attack] was a provocation [by rebels],” Mr Lavrov said. He said that the UN report proved that chemical weapons had been used but had not solved key issues such as “whether the weapons were produced in a factory or home-made”.

Mr Fabius begged to differ. “When you look at the amount of sarin gas used, the [means of delivery], the techniques behind such an attack, as well as other aspects, it seems to leave no doubt that the [Assad] regime is behind it,” the French foreign minister said.

On the wording of a UN security council resolution to give international weight to the US-Russia deal in Geneva, Mr Lavrov was also adamant. He said that he had “spoken clearly” in Geneva about rejecting an automatic use of force. However,  if evidence emerged that Damascus was not complying with a first UN resolution, then the “the Security Council will [meet again to] examine the situation.”

The three western permanent members of the security council – the US, Britain and France – are expected to draft a resolution  this week under the “use-of-force” clause in the UN charter. Mr Fabius told French radio before leaving Paris that he was confident that Moscow would not use its veto to block such a resolution.

Video: Bomb on Turkey-Syria border

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy

Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK edition of wedding show forced to recast after wave of drop-outs
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistants

£50 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Rapidly developing and growing ...

Supply Teachers needed in Stowmarket

£1034496 - £1516224 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: The Job:Randstad ...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week