Syria crisis: Assad regime asks UN to protect it from 'any aggression' from the West

In other international developments, Russia calls US chemical weapons evidence ‘unconvincing’, while France starts revealing its own intelligence for parliament scrutiny and China warns Americans not to act alone on military intervention

Syria has called on the UN to protect it from "any aggression" it may face in the wake of the alleged chemical weapons attack on Damascus.

The regime of Bashar al-Assad has written a letter to the international organisation, addressed to secretary general Ban Ki-moon and President of the Security Council Maria Cristina Perceval, asking for its protection against anticipated strikes.

It said Mr Ban should “shoulder his responsibilities for preventing any aggression on Syria” and asked the body to “maintain its role as a safety valve to prevent the absurd use of force out of the frame of international legitimacy”.

The letter, written by Syrian UN envoy Bashar Ja'afari, said the US was “a state that uses force against whoever opposes its policies”, and described the evidence cited by Secretary of State John Kerry as “old stories fabricated by terrorists“ based on fake photos from the internet.

The comments mirror those coming from Russian officials today, which refute US evidence that the regime was behind the Damascus attack.

American attempts to prove Assad's involvement in the use of chemical weapons are “absolutely unconvincing”, according to Russia’s foreign minister.

The accusation that the Syrian government ordered the bombing of its own people using nerve agents is central to the US’s case for a military retaliation. Ahead of the issue going to a vote in Congress, Mr Kerry has asserted the state is behind the deaths of over 1,400 Syrians on 21 August, 400 of whom were children.

Yet speaking today at Russia’s top diplomatic school, Sergey Lavrov said  the evidence coming from Washington lacked crucial detail.

“Yes, they showed us some findings but there was nothing specific there: no geographic coordinates, no names, no proof that the tests were carried out by the professionals,” Lavrov said – without elaborating on the nature of those tests.

Lavrov said: “What our American, British and French partners showed us in the past and have showed just recently is absolutely unconvincing. And when you ask for more detailed proof they say all of this is classified so we cannot show this to you.”

While the US’s evidence was called into doubt, France was set to present its own intelligence on the alleged chemical attack to its parliament.

President Francois Hollande is becoming increasingly isolated in his demands for Bashar al-Assad's government to be punished with military force, but reports indicate the country’s constitution means it is highly unlikely that any such action would be put to a wider democratic vote.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will meet parliament leaders later today to discuss the crisis, and the head of parliament's foreign affairs committee Elisabeth Guigou said this would include the presentation of French intelligence which pointed clearly to Assad's forces being behind the attack.

And Le Journal du Dimanche published claims from a declassified French intelligence document - confirmed as authentic by a government official - which said Syria's chemical weapons arsenal included sarin, VX nerve agent and mustard gas.

Syria had about 1,000 tonnes of chemical weapons, one of the world's largest such arsenals, which could be delivered with long-range missiles, aerial bombardments or short-range artillery, according to the document.

Elsewhere, China has urged the US not to act alone in trying to punish the Syrian government for its alleged involvement in the incident, after its foreign ministry said today Washington had briefed Beijing over the matter.

China has so far joined Russia in blocking UN action against the regime, and spokesman Hong Lei said any response must conform to the UN Charter and the basic principles underlying international relations.

The UN’s refugee agency today released its latest statistics regarding those displaced by the country’s ongoing civil war.

The organisation’s head Tarik Kurdi said seven million Syrians, almost a third of the entire population, have been forced to move as a result of the violence.

He said around two million had been made to flee into neighbouring countries, and also that two million children were among the overall total impacted by the conflict.

Mr Kuri said UN assistance had thus far been a “drop in the sea of humanitarian need”, and that international donations would have to be more than trebled to meet the basic requirements helping those displaced by the brutal war.

More than 100,000 Syrians have been killed since the uprising against President Assad began in 2011.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk / Trainee Application Support Analyst - Hampshire

£25000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor