After urging the international community for weeks to patiently wait until U.N. investigators published their report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has slammed the probe’s detailed analysis of the use of sarin poison gas in Damascus as “one-sided” and “politicized”.
After landing in Damascus on Wednesday to meet with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem, Ryabkov tore into the U.N.’s independent investigation. The study notably avoided addressing culpability in the Aug. 21 strike, however analysts said the evidence presented in the dossier left little doubt that government troops were behind the chemical weapons atrocity.
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“We think that the report was distorted, it was one-sided, the basis of information upon which it is built is not sufficient,” Ryabkov told a Russian television network. “In any case, we would need to learn and know more about what happened beyond and above that incident of Aug. 21.”
The Russian envoy said Syrian authorities presented him on Wednesday with new evidence concerning the deployment of chemical weapons in the country; however, the diplomat refused to disclose the nature of the material.
Following the publication of the U.N. report on Monday, Security Council members met in New York on Tuesday and quarreled over a resolution that would allow weapons inspectors to enter Syria, and begin the process of transferring the illicit stockpiles to international custody for destruction by mid-2014, in accordance with a U.S.-Russia deal that was hashed out in Geneva over the weekend.
The primary point of contention centers on leaving a military strike on the table in the event that Assad refuses to comply with the resolution. The U.S.-British-French bloc wants to keep the use of force as an option, while the Russians oppose it.
In Beijing on Wednesday, Jordan’s King Abdullah called on China to play a more diligent role in helping push for a peace plan that would stop the fighting in Syria.
“I am here today to discuss with you, as a key member of the United Nations Security Council and a friend of Jordan and the Middle East, ways and means of achieving peace, stability, civility and prosperity in our region through an active role in the (Israel-Palestine) peace process as well as that of the Syrian conflict,” said Abdullah during a state visit to the country, according to an AP report.
As of mid-July, Jordan was providing an estimated 440,000 Syrian refugees with food and shelter. Earlier this week, Chinese officials said they were prepared to take a more “serious” look at the U.N.’s most recent findings.
(More: U.S. Lauds U.N. Probe on Syria Poison Gas Attack, Russia Denies Culprit Identified)
On the Syrian-Turkish border today, tensions continued to run high after a car bomb exploded killing at least seven people and injuring 20. According to the Guardian, the explosive device was detonated near a checkpoint on the Syrian side of the border at the Bab al-Hawa crossing, which is run by Islamist rebel fighters.
Earlier in the week, Turkish F-16 fighter jets shot down a Syrian helicopter after the craft allegedly crossed into Turkey’s airspace. According to Turkish officials, the helicopter was warned repeatedly to exit the country before it was fired upon.
During a meeting in Paris on Monday Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he hoped the incident sent a strong message. “No one will have the nerve to violate Turkey’s borders in any way again,” said Davutoglu.