Thursday, June 20, 2019 | ePaper

US accuses Russia of lying on Syria attack to undermine truce

  • Print


A Syrian woman receives treatment at a hospital after an assault on Aleppo, which Russia claimed was a chemical attack by rebels.




The United States and Britain accused Russia on Friday of fabricating a story about chemical weapons use by Syrian rebels and warned Moscow against undermining a shaky truce.
Russia's defense ministry said rebels fired weapons containing chlorine on November 24 on the regime-held city of Aleppo, with Syrian state media reporting that around 100 Syrians were hospitalized for breathing difficulties.
Russia responded to the purported attack with air raids on Idlib, the latest major stronghold of rebels and jihadists battling President Bashar al-Assad, throwing into question a truce reached in mid-September. The United States said it had "credible information" that the chlorine account was false and that Russian and Syrian forces instead had fired tear gas.
"The United States is deeply concerned that pro-regime officials have maintained control of the attack site in its immediate aftermath, allowing them to potentially fabricate samples and contaminate the site before a proper investigation of it by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement. "We caution Russia and the regime against tampering with the suspected attack site and urge them to secure the safety of impartial, independent inspectors so that those responsible can be held accountable," he said. He said that Russia and Syria were "using it as an opportunity to undermine confidence in the ceasefire in Idlib."
In a similar statement, Britain said it was "highly unlikely" that chlorine or the opposition were involved in the incident.
"It is likely that this was either a staged incident intended to frame the opposition, or an operation which went wrong and from which Russia and the regime sought to take advantage," a Foreign Office spokesperson said, also backing an investigation by the OPCW, the international chemical weapons watchdog. Russia's embassy in Washington hit back on Facebook.
"The Russian Defense Ministry does not rule out that the US Department of State's allegations about the recent toxic chemicals attack in Syria's Aleppo are aimed at distracting the public attention from the crimes of the US aviation in the east of the Middle Eastern country," the post said.
Western powers, the United Nations and human rights groups have repeatedly pointed to chemical attacks by Assad's forces.
A Syrian gas attack in April 2017 in the town of Khan Sheikhun killed 83 people, according to the United Nations. US President Donald Trump replied by ordering 59 cruise missiles to strike a Syrian air base, a reversal from his predecessor Barack Obama's controversial reluctance to respond militarily.

More News For this Category

Trump launches 2020 bid with vow to 'keep America great'

Trump launches 2020 bid with vow to 'keep America great'

AFP, Orlando :President Donald Trump launched his 2020 reelection campaign Tuesday much the same way he rode to power in 2016 -- with a raucous, nationalist rally stirring fear of

Johnson looks to cement UK leadership lead after surviving TV debate

Johnson looks to cement UK leadership lead after surviving TV debate

Brexit figurehead Boris Johnson will look to cement his stranglehold of the UK leadership race Wednesday after emerging unscathed from a TV debate against his four remaining rivals.The former foreign

Sperm donor is child's legal father, Australian court rules

Sperm donor is child's legal father, Australian court rules

A man who donated sperm so his gay friend could have a baby more than a decade ago has parental rights over their daughter, Australia's High Court ruled Wednesday.The court

China, North Korea look to strengthen ties amid US disputes

China, North Korea look to strengthen ties amid US disputes

AP, SEOUL, South Korea :Chinese President Xi Jinping travels to North Korea to meet leader Kim Jong Un this week looking to strengthen their sometimes shaky bond at a time

Trump's Defense Secretary pick quits as reports emerge of family violence

Trump's Defense Secretary pick quits as reports emerge of family violence

Reuters, Washington :Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan abandoned his quest for the top Pentagon job on Tuesday as reports emerged of domestic violence in his family, plunging the leadership of

News In Brief

Iran 'categorically rejects' US tanker attack allegationsAFP, TehranIran's defence minister "categorically rejected" Wednesday accusations that Tehran was behind two tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman, describing evidence presented by

Tensions rise as Iran speeds up enrichment, US sends troops

Tensions rise as Iran speeds up enrichment, US sends troops

AP, Tehran : Iran will surpass the uranium-stockpile limit set by its nuclear deal in the next 10 days, an official said Monday, raising pressure on Europeans trying to save the

Anger in India as lychee-linked brain fever kills 103 children

Anger in India as lychee-linked brain fever kills 103 children

AFP, Patna, India :Angry protests erupted in one of India's poorest states Tuesday over the deaths of more than 100 children from a mysterious brain fever potentially linked to lychees.So

Trump heads back to base for 2020 campaign kickoff

Trump heads back to base for 2020 campaign kickoff

President Donald Trump will get a big crowd of his most loyal supporters at Tuesday's official 2020 reelection campaign kickoff in Florida but dismal early poll numbers show the larger-than-life

China warns US against opening ME 'Pandora's box'

China warns US against opening ME 'Pandora's box'

AFP, Beijing :China on Tuesday warned against opening a "Pandora's box" in the Middle East after the United States announced the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the region amid