Russia has violated its duty to guarantee the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons and prevent the Assad government from using banned poison gas, the United States charged on Wednesday.
“For Russia to claim that the Assad regime has eliminated its chemical stockpiles is just absurd. Its continued denial of the Assad’s regime culpability in the use of chemical weapons is simply incredible,” U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood told the Conference on Disarmament, as quoted by Reuters.
”Russia needs to be on the right side of history on this issue. It is currently on the wrong side of history,” he added.
Wood’s comments followed reports of repeated use of chlorine bombs over the last month during fighting in the rebel-held Syrian region of Eastern Ghouta.
The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has opened an investigation into the latest reports of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
The Syrian regime has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons and did so again on Wednesday, claiming that “terrorist groups” including the Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State (ISIS) had obtained some stocks.
“Syria cannot be possibly using chemical weapons because it very simply has none in its possession,” Hussam Aala, Syrian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, told the forum, according to Reuters.
Syria signed up to the international ban on chemical weapons in 2013, as part of a deal brokered by Moscow to avert U.S. air strikes in retaliation for a nerve gas attack that killed hundreds of people, which Washington blamed on Damascus. In the years that followed, Syria’s declared stockpile of banned poison gasses was destroyed by international monitors.
Syria’s government had made an “unprecedented achievement by destroying all its chemical weapons in record time and in a manner that is irrevocable, although field conditions were extremely complex due to our war against terrorism”, Aala said Wednesday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, addressing the Conference on Disarmament, said Syria had eliminated its chemical weapons stockpile and placed its arsenal under international control.
Lavrov said the United States was repeating allegations by what he called “fully-discredited” Syrian rescue workers in rebel-held areas, who had put forth “absurd claims against the government of Syria”.
“We note that the U.S. and its allies are simply exploiting baseless allegations of toxic weapons use by Damascus as a tool of anti-Syrian political engineering,” Lavrov added, according to Reuters.