Russia and Iran have slammed the Syrian opposition fighters of using chemical weapons in Aleppo — drawing attention to the possible elevation of the Syrian crisis to a new level.
“A case of the use of chemical weapons by the armed opposition was recorded early in the morning of March 19 in Aleppo province,” said a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and the opposition hurled accusations against each other for launching the lethal chemical attack. Syria’s official news agency SANA said at least 25 people were killed and scores injured after the opposition fired missiles containing “poisonous gases” into Aleppo’s Khan al-Assal village on Tuesday. It claimed that women and children bore the brunt.
Moscow said it was “very seriously concerned by the fact that weapons of mass destruction are falling into the hands of the rebels, which further worsens the situation in Syria and elevates the confrontation in the country to a new level”.
Iran strongly condemned the “inhuman action of using chemical weapons in the city of Aleppo by the armed opposition groups”, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast.
Mr. Mehmanparast hit out at countries that have been allegedly supporting and funding the armed groups in Syria, saying these states would be responsible for any repeat of “such atrocities”.
Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said Turkey and Qatar, which support the opposition fighters, bore “legal, moral and political responsibility” for the chemical attack.
The strike was carried out within hours of the elevation of Ghassan Hitto, a former U.S.-based IT executive, to the position of Prime Minister in the so-called Syrian interim government.