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

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £38,000

£16000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Sales Advisor - OTE 18k-23k

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Ford's leading Parts Who...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to learn ...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders