Russia’s top diplomat demands probe into Syrian chemical attack
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov renewed calls for an independent investigation into the chemical incident in the Idlib province of Syria that killed as many as 100 people, APA reports quoting sputniknews.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov emerged from a closed-door summit in the Kremlin to discuss their two-hour meeting with President Vladimir Putin. While the two sides agreed that they "understand each other better," Moscow and Washington have distinctly different perspectives on what should take place in Syria, specifically as it pertains to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's claims to power.
Tillerson noted that the Idlib strike was planned, directed and executed by Syrian government forces. The US diplomat said Damascus has used chlorine bombs and other chemical weapons on more than 50 prior instances, adding that there is a good deal of evidence suggesting that the Assad regime is guilty of war crimes.
Lavrov disputed the validity of Washington's allegations against Assad. On Wednesday, Lavrov said an "unbiased international investigation" into the matter is the only appropriate way forward, reminding reporters that "no proof" has been disclosed that renders Assad culpable for the attack.
Lavrov said the United Nations ought to lead such an investigation. He noted that the UN Security Council ought to refrain from a creating a resolution in response to the incident until an objective probe is completed. Lavrov observed that any resolution condemning Damascus without the results of an investigation would be "counterproductive." He denied Russia has the intention to "shield anyone" from international law prohibiting the use of chemical weapons.
Lavrov also declared that the military hotline connecting Moscow and Washington regarding operations in Syrian airspace could be restored only if the Pentagon focuses its military efforts on Daesh and other extremist groups. Lavrov noted that the Obama administration refused to target the Al-Nusra Front, otherwise known as the Syrian sect of Al Qaeda. The deconfliction channel was cut by Russian President Vladimir Putin following the April 6 US strike on the Syrian government's Sha'irat airfield in the province of Homs.
The Russian Foreign Minister also said that President Putin was willing to reinstate a flight safety memorandum meant to prevent clashes between US and Russian air forces over Syrian airspace. Like the hotline, the memorandum was suspended by Moscow following the US strike.
Tillerson maintained that the US has "high confidence" in Washington's assertion that the Syrian government was behind the chemical attack. He also said there was nothing to suggest Russian forces were involved in the use of chemical weapons.
But Lavrov wants proof. "We would like to see any evidence, any hard practical evidence," he said. "So far we haven't seen any, and I would like to stress once again: what we are doing in Syria, we are doing based on the request of a legitimate government that is a member of the UN… we are there to fight terrorism. It is in our best interest to stop [Daesh] and Al-Nusra from reigning in Damascus."
On Tuesday, Tillerson accused Moscow of failing to locate and destroy Assad's chemical weapon stockpile.
"It is unclear whether Russia failed to take this obligation seriously or Russia has been incompetent, but this distinction doesn't much matter to the dead. We can't let this happen again," Tillerson said.
Lavrov replied by criticizing the American strike on Sha'irat as "unlawful."
"We have seen very alarming actions recently with an unlawful attack against Syria." he told reporters. "We consider it of utmost importance to prevent the risks of replay of similar action in the future."
Related news releases
- 20.10.2017Sergey Lavrov meets with Council of Europe Secretary General
- 20.10.2017Russia's Putin says oil price above $50/bbl is fair
- 20.10.2017Putin regrets that disrespect shown for Trump in US
- 19.10.2017Putin: Russia ready to move towards universal nuclear disarmament
- 19.10.2017Russian TV host Ksenia Sobchak declares Kremlin bid for 2018
- 18.10.2017Pedro Agramunt receives honorary doctorate from Russian higher school
- 18.10.2017One of main sponsors of separatist regime in Karabakh dies
- 18.10.2017Moscow police detain Armenian taxi driver accused of poisoning almost 100 people to death
- 18.10.2017Russia testing new Silo-Based ballistic missile
- 17.10.2017Lavrov: Agreement on UNSC reform unrealistic in next couple of years
- 16.10.2017Putin signs decree to implement UNSC sanctions on North Korea
- 16.10.2017Lavrov comments on construction of subsea pipeline in Caspian Sea
- 16.10.2017Armenian citizen shot dead in downtown Moscow
- 14.10.2017Russian FSB, police detain İSİL supporters preparing terrorist attacks
- 14.10.2017Russian President: "Fight against terror should be free from double standards"
- 13.10.2017Lavrov urges to give up on escalating tensions around DPRK
- 11.10.2017Putin: Volume of trade between CIS countries has reached $75 billion
- 11.10.2017Lukashenko criticizes CIS Interparliamentary Assembly for low efficiency
- 11.10.201718 documents inked at CIS summit in Sochi
- 11.10.2017Tajikistan takes over CIS presidency
- 11.10.2017Putin stresses need to increase effectiveness of CIS
- 11.10.2017Turkmen president gives Putin Central Asian pooch as gift
- 10.10.2017Several documents signed at CIS Ministerial Council meeting
- 09.10.2017House fire kills five in Russia
- 06.10.201717 killed, 12 others injured as train collides with bus in central Russia - UPDATED
- 06.10.2017Four Russian nationals abroad suspected of false phone bomb threats in Russia
- 05.10.2017Armenian businessman shot dead in Moscow
- 05.10.2017Russian Investigative Committee refuses to open criminal case against historian who exposed Armenian lies
- 05.10.2017Terror threat for CIS countries remains high: Anti-Terrorism Center
- 04.10.2017Saudi King arrives in Moscow for first ever visit
- 04.10.2017CIS foreign ministers to meet in Sochi
- 04.10.2017Severed human legs found next to supermarket in Moscow
- 04.10.2017Conditions for defeating terrorists, returning to peaceful life in Syria created — Lavrov
- 04.10.2017Venezuela's Maduro Travels to Russia For Energy Talks
- 03.10.2017Saakashvili's issue must be resolved through legal means: Ukrainian FM
- 30.09.2017Mammadbagir Aliyev elected to RAS Presidium
- 29.09.2017Shootout at Russian military base leaves 3 dead, 2 wounded
- 29.09.2017Two pilots die in military aircraft crash in Ukraine
- 27.09.2017Ukraine detains suspects behind massive blaze at ammo depot in Vinnytsia
- 27.09.2017Dagestan leader Ramazan Abdulatipov writes resignation letter
- 13.04.2017Former head of Russia's Mari El Republic detained over suspected bribe-taking
- 13.04.2017Belarus pays off $726 mln gas debt to Russia's Gazprom
- 13.04.2017Russian and Turkish presidents hold phone conversation
- 12.04.2017Putin says trust erodes under Trump, Moscow icily receives Tillerson
- 12.04.2017Russian, Iranian and Syrian foreign ministers to meet in Moscow
- 12.04.2017Putin: Almost half of foreign Islamic State militants are from CIS countries