Russia has produced scientific proof of the Syrian rebels’ use of chemical weapons that would reinforce claims that the attacks were staged to provide a pretext for Western intervention in Syria.
Laboratory tests of samples taken at Khan al-Assal, the site of an alleged nerve gas attack near the town of Aleppo on March 19, indicated that it was the rebels, not the Syrian army, who mounted the attack, the Itar-Tass news agency reported quoting Russia’s United Nations envoy Vitaly Churkin.
“The results of the analysis clearly indicate that the ordnance used in Khan al-Assal was not industrially manufactured and was filled with sarin,” Mr. Churkin said at the U.N. headquarters in New York.
The sarin was not factory produced either as it lacked chemical stabilisers used in military-standard weapons for long-term storage, Mr. Churkin said.
The gas-laden warhead, which killed 26 people, including 16 military personnel, had been delivered by a “Bashair-3” unguided missile manufactured in makeshift conditions by Bashair al-Nasr brigade with close links to the Free Syrian Army.
“Therefore, there is every reason to believe that it was the armed opposition fighters who used the chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal," Mr. Churkin said.
The samples had been collected by Russian experts, and not obtained through intermediaries as was the case with Western samples, used to substantiate claims of the Syrian army.
The Russian envoy handed over the 80-page analysis report packed with “photographs, formulas and graphs” to the U.N. Secretary General on Tuesday.
U.S. President Barack Obama said last month the Syrian government had crossed the “red lines” with its use of chemical weapons, prompting the White House to start arming Syrian rebels.