Syria denies insurgent claims of chemical arms use

Syria denies insurgent claims of chemical arms use
Thu Apr 24, 2014 16:40:25

Syria has fiercely rejected allegations by foreign-sponsored insurgency elements about the use of chemical weapons by government forces as a ploy to divert attention from the country’s upcoming presidential elections.

Denying the latest accusation on Wednesday, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari reiterated that the enemies of Syria will spare no effort to overshadow preparations for the nation’s presidential polls, due to be held in June.

Ja’afari categorically rejected the foreign-based opposition claims that chlorine gas has been used by government forces.

The accusation has been made by the insurgency backers and activists as well as French officials without independent verification. Anti-Damascus opposition activists have recently posted videos similar to those from a chemical arms attack near the Syrian capital last August, which killed hundreds of people and nearly triggered US airstrikes against Syria, based on unproven allegations that government forces were behind the attack despite strong denials by Damascus.

A leading member of a UN inquiry commission at the time said testimony from victims of the chemical attack suggested that militants and not government forces had used the nerve agent Sarin outside Damascus in the August 2013 attack.

The new footage published online by foreign-backed Syrian opposition activists show pale-faced men, women and children coughing and gasping at field hospitals.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s UN Ambassador and current Security Council President U. Joy Ogwu told reporters that the alleged chlorine gas attacks were raised during a closed-door council meeting following a video briefing on Wednesday.

She said council members have called for an investigation but did not discuss who should conduct the probe.  She also suggested that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which Syria joined last year, could play a role.

Meanwhile, OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu said on Tuesday that Syria has removed 86.5 percent of its total chemical weapons stockpile.

On September 14, 2013, Russia and the United States agreed on a deal under which Syria would have its chemical weapons eliminated and the US would in return not carry out planned strikes on the Arab country.

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