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Moscow calls for impartial investigation of chemical weapons incident in Syria

March 25, 2013, 19:38 UTC+3

Russia believes it “necessary to adhere to depoliticised and impartial criteria in forming a technical mission to the Syrian Arab Republic

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MOSCOW, March 25 (Itar-Tass) – Moscow urged U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to ensure an impartial investigation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Monday, March 25.

“Reports from Damascus on March 19 told of the use by rebels of chemical weapons in Khan-al-Assal, Aleppo Province. Thereupon the Syrian government sent an appeal to the U.N. Secretary-General, asking him to conduct an independent international investigation of the incident. In response, the U.N. Secretary-General suggested sending a technical mission of experts to Syria to conduct the investigation under U.N. auspices, notifying Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem thereof in a return letter,” Lukashevich said.

“However later, when drafting the relevant letter to the U.N. Security Council, Ban Ki-moon, under pressure from several Western members of the Security Council, had agreed to an unjustified enlargement of the mission’s mandate, making an attempt to task it with investigating all the other alleged uses of chemical weapons in Syria,” the spokesperson said.

“We believe that this is a counterproductive approach. “There are no facts proving the use of chemical weapons in Syria except for the incident of March 19,” he said.

“We believe that this situation necessitates urgent international measures in response to a U.N. member state to conduct an objective investigation of the specific case registered on March 19,” the spokesperson said.

“Attempts to delay the U.N.-led investigation of one of the most pressing issues into an element of additional pressure for changing the regime in the country are unacceptable,” Lukashevich said.

Russia believes it “necessary to adhere to depoliticised and impartial criteria in forming a technical mission to the Syrian Arab Republic,” he said.

Lukashevich believes it “important to ensure a balanced geographic composition [of the mission] to provide for the participation of representatives of Russia and China in its work.”

“We urge the U.N. Secretary-General to take a responsible approach to ensure an objective investigation of the incident in Syria,” the diplomat said.

Immediately after the incident, Moscow and Damascus called for its urgent independent investigation.

The statement was made at a meeting between Russian president’s special representative for the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and Syrian Ambassador in Moscow Riyad Haddad on March 20.

The diplomats discussed the situation in Syria, specifically “in the context of reports on the use by Syrian opposition militants of chemical weapons,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“The emphasis was placed on the inadmissibility of using such weapons and on the need for an urgent independent investigation of the use of weapons of mass destruction in the Syrian province of Aleppo,” the ministry said.

There is no clear evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on the same day.

“The story about the use of chemical weapons in Syria should be thoroughly investigated,” Gatilov wrote in his Twitter account. “There is no clear evidence so far.”

“We have already warned about the danger of having these weapons fall into the hands of militants, which can take the Syrian crisis to a new level of confrontation,” the diplomat said.

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