Newscast Media MOSCOW—While the media has been quick to find pictures of dead Syrians and post them on the Web alleging a chemical attack by Assad on his own people, Moscow is taking a different approach and sees things differently.
Moscow does not rule out that reports alleging the use of chemical weapons in Syria, claims released as a UN investigative team began working in the country, are a “planned provocation” by media outlets to sway public opinion against the ruling regime, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Wednesday.
“Moscow considers it important to conduct an objective and professional investigation,” ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said. He said later in the day that a homemade rocket “with an unidentified chemical agent” was launched Wednesday in a Damascus suburb from the Syrian rebels’ positions, similar to the one launched Monday in Khan al-Assal.
A UN team of chemical weapons investigators, headed by Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom, started working in Damascus on Monday. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon confirmed that the team would investigate a reported March 19 chemical attack in Khan al-Assal as well as alleged attacks in two other locations being kept secret for security reasons.
The Syrian opposition has accused the government of killing scores of people in a massive nerve gas attack in Damascus, with death toll estimates varying from a hundred to more than a thousand people.
Russia’s UN mission said Wednesday that the UN Security Council would hold an emergency meeting over the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria. Both sides in the ongoing Syrian civil war have traded allegations of chemical weapons use. The UN investigative team had been unable to travel to Syria because of diplomatic wrangling over the scope of the access they would have.
Meanwhile, Syria Arab News Agency (SANA) has refuted the claims and said the reports circulated by the TV channels of al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, Sky News and other channels which are involved in the shedding of Syrian blood and supporting terrorism, are completely baseless, and that the aim behind broadcasting such reports is to distract the UN chemical weapons investigation committee from its mission.
In a telephone call with the Syrian TV, Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said a media and political campaign of lies began today, led by some Arab and foreign channels, accompanied by statements from officials in countries known for their hostile stances towards Syria.
Source: SANA/Ria Novosti
Newscast Media NEW YORK— UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has apparently asked the UN Security Council to support a deadline of April 10 for the gradual implementation of his peace plan in Syria. Damascus has reportedly agreed to the deadline.
The government of Syria has agreed to an April 10 deadline to partially implement a plan to end violence in the country, UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan reportedly told the UN Security Council on Monday.
Diplomats said Annan asked the 15-nation council to support the deadline, which would include a full cease-fire within 48 hours. The peace plan includes a freeze on Syrian troop movements toward dissident cities and a halt to the use of heavy weapons.
The Assad regime had said it would accept the peace plan but did not initially specify when. Meanwhile fighting has continued, and at least 18 people were killed in Syria on Monday.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday that arming the opposition “would lead to a potentially dangerous proliferation of weapons in the region.”
The issue of arming the rebels also divided an Arab League summit in Baghdad last week, where Qatar and Saudi Arabia – both advocates of supporting the rebels militarily – snubbed the conference by sending lower-level envoys instead of their heads of state.
A representative of the opposition Syrian National Council said on Monday that some Arab countries had already pledged arms to the rebels, but he implied that the exchange would take place in secret.
“The Free Syrian Army will be armed by some friendly countries, but this will not be done in the open and will be very soon,” SNC member Sheikh Anas Airout told the DPA news agency.