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Syria dismisses US, UK gas attack allegations at UNSC

The file photo shows acting chargé d'affaires of the Syrian delegation at the UN, Munzer Munzer.

Syria has dismissed fresh accusations by the US and the UK about Damascus using of chemical weapons against militants and civilians in the country.

During a UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Monday, acting chargé d'affaires of the Syrian delegation at the UN, Munzer Munzer, rejected the US claims as “false and cheap.”

The Syrian diplomat said the US resorts to such “fabricated accusations” whenever it realizes that terrorist groups are in trouble in the face of any progress by the Syrian army.

He noted that the US, Britain and France bear full responsibility for obstructing an independent investigation into the use of chemical weapons by covering up crimes committed by terrorists in Syria.

The UNSC meeting was requested by Russia to discuss the use of chemical weapons, following a report on a poisonous gas attack in northwestern Syria.  

At the UNSC session, the US and Britain once again accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against civilians.

Russian ambassador to the UN Vasilly Nebenzia (L) talks with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley before the start of a Security Council meeting in New York City on January 5, 2018. (AFP photo)

The two countries also accused Russia of obstructing investigation into chemical incidents in Syria.

“There are reports of yet another chemical weapons attack on Sunday. Victims of what appears to be chlorine gas are pouring into hospitals,” US envoy to the UN Niki Haley said.      

“So, we proposed the Security Council press statement condemning these attacks. So far, Russia has delayed the adoption of the statement; a simple condemnation of Syrian children being suffocated by chlorine gas,” she added.

Britain’s representative at the meeting also lashed out at Russia for vetoing investigation into chemical incidents in Syria for three times, saying Moscow has been shielding the Syrian government.

Addressing the council members, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vasily Alekseevich Nebenzya rejected any use of chemical weapons by Damascus and accused the Western media outlets of what he called “propagandistic campaign.”

“Recently, there has been all the fuss about the alleged use of chlorine in Damascus suburbs. There are even rumors about Sarin being used. Where? When? By whom? What comes with this propagandistic campaign is nothing new,” Nebenzya said.

The Russian ambassador also accused the US and Britain of using the issue to sabotage Moscow’s efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria.

“Today’s meeting is being used by the US and UK to slander the Russian Federation. We can see clearly why this is taking place. Some are concerned about the success of the Syrian national dialogue conference in Sochi. There are concerns about the prospect to breathe new life into the political process in Syria,” he noted.

Around 1,600 delegates representing a wide range of Syrian political factions attended the Sochi talks in late January. The event was boycotted by the High Negotiations Committee, which is based in and guided by Saudi Arabia.

Damascus welcomed the results of the event and stressed that its final statement affirmed that political progress in Syria cannot begin except under the Syrian leadership and without any foreign interference.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (C) delivers a speech at the end of a plenary session at the Congress of Syrian National Dialogue in Russian port city of Sochi on January 30, 2018. (AFP photo)

Apart from Washington’s claim about a chemical attack on Sunday, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday that the White House was concerned that militants had been attacked by sarin, an allegation that Damascus dismissed as US “lies.”

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Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in early 2011, the Western governments have on several occasions accused Syria of using chemical weapons against militants. Damascus has denied the allegation, saying it is meant to pile more pressure on the government forces and delay their success in the fight against terrorists.

Last year, the US and allies in Europe said Syria and Russia, an ally of Damascus in the fight against terror, used chemical weapons against militants in Khan Sheikhun in the province of Idlib. Moscow swiftly rejected the allegations, saying its fighter jets had in fact bombarded a depot in the area in which the militants had stored chemicals.

The Syrian government and allied fighters have managed to liberate most of the territories that used to be under the control of the militants for the past years.

Damascus still maintains that foreign governments, including the US, fanned the flames of militancy in Syria by providing weapons and training to certain groups of militants. The government says if it was not for the support of certain foreign states, the militancy could have not gone out of hand in such a devastating degree.

The seven-year war in Syria has killed more than 350,000 people, according to the United Nations' estimates.

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