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Russia: US ignored appeals for Syria chemical arms proof

Russia has accused Washington of ignoring Moscow's appeals for proof of government involvement in chemical weapons attacks in Syria during the country's more than 2-1/2-year old civil war.

Moscow's allegations against Washington come as the two diplomatic powers say they are encouraging peace talks that Western powers and Gulf Arab states hope will lead to the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the formation of a transitional government.

"Our requests for additional information which could prove the Syrian government involvement in the use of chemical weapons were ignored by Washington," Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters after a closed-door meeting on chief UN chemical arms investigator Ake Sellstrom's final report.

Churkin said allegations about Syrian government involvement in chemical attacks, including an Aug. 21 sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of people, "were not persuasive." He said Moscow viewed the Aug. 21 incident as a provocation by the rebels.

The Russian ambassador referred to what he said was information released by former US spy contractor Edward Snowden. US relations with Russia have been strained in recent months over Moscow's decision to grant temporary asylum to Snowden, who leaked documents about widespread US surveillance activity.

"The lack of any proof (about Syrian government use of chemical arms) was particularly strange because as the public learned from the media reports based on Edward Snowden's materials the United States had powerful intelligence assets in Syria," Churkin said.

He described those intelligence assets as "sensors capable to provide in real time on any mixing of precursors by the Syrian troop for sarin production. Sarin does not live long."

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Tags:  US  syria  rebels  Assad  Obama  gas attack  


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