Lavrov: Russia convinced Syria chemical attack a "provocation"
Published Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Updated 8:45 pm: Russia remains convinced that the August 21 poison gas attack in Syria was a provocation by rebel forces and says a report by UN inspectors does not answer all of its questions about the attack, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference alongside French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius a day after UN inspectors confirmed the use of the nerve agent sarin, Lavrov said the report had produced no proof that government troops carried out the attack and that Russia still suspected rebel forces were behind it.
Fabius took the opposite view, saying the report left no doubt that Assad's forces were to blame for the attack.
Lavrov said that the investigators' report proved that chemical weapons had been used but that "there is no answer to a number of questions we have asked," including whether the weapons were produced in a factory or home-made.
"We have very serious grounds to believe that this was a provocation," Lavrov said after talks in Moscow between two countries with veto powers in the UN Security Council.
He said there had been "many provocations" by the rebels fighting Assad's government and added: "They were all aimed, over the last two years, at provoking foreign intervention."
Lavrov said the UN report should be examined not in isolation but along with evidence from sources such as the Internet and other media, including accounts from "nuns at a nearby convent" and a journalist who had spoken to rebels.
"We want the events of August 21 to be investigated dispassionately, objectively and professionally," he said.