By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
UN investigators will return to Syria, following up on more allegations of chemical weapons use. Russia recently criticized a UN report on the chemical attack in Damascus as being too slanted and “distorted” against the Syrian government. The US, UK, and France, on the other hand, praise the report for its accuracy.
“This analysis is not finished, so the point here is not about accusing parties,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, warning against pointing the finger at Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. “But the point is… that those inspectors of the UN should come back to Syria to complete their investigation.” He also says Russia has evidence that the rebels, not the Syrian government, were responsible for the August 21 attack. Ryabkov explains, “This confirmation and this evidence has been transmitted to the Russian side… and we are in the process of studying those.”
Russia has remained a strong ally of Syria’s government throughout the international debate over how best to deal with the chemical attack, partially because Russian defense contracts with Syria are worth over $4 billion. Al-Assad met with US delegates and Ryabkov on Wednesday in Syria, and according to Syrian state television, he “expressed his and the Syrian people’s gratitude for the Russian positions supporting Syria in confronting the aggressive attack and the terrorism that is aided by Western, Arab and regional states.”
Ever since the US-Russia deal, al-Assad’s supporters have celebrated it as a win, if only because it delayed a potential US-led military strike on Syria. Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi describes it “brilliant victories of the Syrian diplomacy realized… in terms of preventing the U.S. from launching a military aggression against Syria.” Featured image courtesy of Zachary Baumgartner. Image of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon courtesy of Paulo Filgueiras and UN. Video courtesy of UN.