Russian FM: Moscow’s position on Syrian president unchanged

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that Moscow’s position on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remained unchanged.

The Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov had stressed that Russia will continue supporting President Assad in the fight against terrorism.

“Russia and its Armed Forces continue the operation to support the anti-terrorist operation to liberate the country carried out by the Syrian Arab Republic’s army,” the Spokesman said on Wednesday, adding that Moscow will present the Russian Defense Ministry’s data on an airstrike on a plant producing chemical weapons in Syria at the UN Security Council.

Syrian opposition claimed Tuesday forces loyal to Damascus had used a chemical gas on people in Idlib, killing nearly 80 and injuring 200.

The General Command of the Army and Armed Forces categorically denied allegations and claims circulated by media outlets, which are partner in shedding the Syrian blood, about the use of chemical substances in the town of Khan Shaikhoun in Idlib countryside.

“The armed terrorist groups used to accuse the Syrian Arab Army of using toxic gases against them or against civilians at anytime they fail to implement the targets of their sponsors and operators or when they are unable to achieve any advantages on the ground in an desperate attempt to justify their failure and to maintain the support of their masters,” the Army’s general command said.

It categorically denied any use of chemical or poisonous materials in the town of Khan Shaikhoun in Idlib countryside, affirming that it didn’t and will never use those materials in any place or time, nor in the future.

The army’s general command held the terrorist groups and those behind them responsible for the use of chemical and toxic substances and the disregard for the lives of innocent citizens to achieve their goals and base agendas.

The Russian military said in a statement that Moscow did not conduct any airstrikes in Idlib province, while Russia’s Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov added that the Syrian Air Force has destroyed a warehouse in Idlib province where chemical weapons were being produced and stockpiled before being shipped to Iraq.

The United States and its allies have in the past accused the Syrian military of conducting chemical attacks, while Damascus turned its entire chemical arsenal over to international monitors under a deal negotiated by Russia and the United States back in 2013.

Foreign-backed militants have repeatedly used chemical weapons against Syrian troops and civilians, but the attacks have often been ignored by Western governments.

Syrian forces had also found Saudi and Turkish chemicals in Aleppo that were used by Takfiri terrorist groups to make chemical weapons. Damascus forces also discovered several chemical-weapons workshops in the war-torn country in the past years.

Russia’s Defense Ministry also found poisonous chlorine and white phosphorus in nine samples from Southwestern Aleppo in November 2016.

Russian Defense Ministry’s Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the UN-backed Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was reluctant to join forces with Russia or send experts to Aleppo, adding that “which does not stop some OPCW members from apportioning blame from afar and ignoring the evidence that chemical weapons are being used against civilians.”

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in the same month that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons refuses to send its experts to Aleppo to check substances used by militants in attacks and the move was “seemingly done under pressure from our Western colleagues”.

“Russian specialists found that militants in Eastern Aleppo used ammunition with poisonous substances, with the ammo targeting Western Aleppo. The collected samples leave no doubt that it’s a toxic agent,” he added.

In December 2016, Syrian authorities had provided the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) with evidence of mustard gas use by militants in Aleppo province.

Syria has been hit with rounds of Western sanctions for years on accusations that its government exercised violence against its own people. The European Union has extended until June 2017 curbs on Syria linked to investment, oil production and trade.