UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Russia on Monday criticized some Western countries for jumping to conclusions in favor of the Syrian opposition, saying all facts and questions " need to be addressed seriously and professionally."
Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN ambassador, made the remarks while speaking to reporters after the release of a UN report that confirmed the use of chemical weapons in Syria on Aug. 21. Britain, France and the United States claimed Monday that the latest UN findings supported their previous judgment that the Syrian government had used the chemical weapons in the conflict.
Churkin challenged the Western claims with some questions.
Earlier on Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed the UN Security Council on the report by the UN fact-finding group led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, who handed him the report Sunday.
"But now I think some colleagues jumped to conclusions when they were saying that the Sellstrom report definitively reports that it was the (Syrian) government forces that used the chemical weapons in Ghouta August 21," Churkin said.
"First of all, we have not had the chance to look at the report, we were given the report when consultations started and the secretary-general had already completed his remarks, we had a quick glance but not really able to study," he said. "We want everyone to treat it as an extremely serious manner and look at it with eyes of experts."
He put forward questions that there is no reports of casualties on the opposition side after the alleged attacks.
"On March 19th the Syrian government reported 1,026 people killed, 16 were from the Syrian military so is it theoretically possible to fire 5 or 6 rockets against your opponent and have all of them miss the target?" Churkin asked.
"So, all of those questions are there and they need to be addressed very seriously and professionally," he said.
Meanwhile, the Russian envoy also strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, although he said the UN inspection team 's conclusion came as no surprise to him.
The UN inspectors have found "clear and convincing evidence" that Sarin gas was used in an incident that occurred on Aug. 21 in the Ghouta area on the outskirts of Damascus, the Syrian capital, which reportedly killed hundreds of people.
"The report makes for chilling reading," the UN chief told reporters after briefing the Security Council behind closed doors on the UN team's work, which concludes that on the basis of evidence obtained during its investigation, "chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in [Syria], also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale."
"There must be accountability for the use of chemical weapons. Any use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, is a crime," Ban said. "But our message today must be more than: Do not slaughter your people with gas. There must also be no impunity for the crimes being committed with conventional weapons."
"This is a war crime," the secretary-general said, stressing that the incident marked the most serious chemical weapons incident since Saddam Hussein's attack on the Halabja region of Iraq, and the worst use of weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century.
"The international community has a responsibility to hold the perpetrators accountable and to ensure that chemical weapons never re-emerge as an instrument of warfare," he said.
The accession of Syria to the Chemical Weapons Convention and its belated acknowledgment that it possesses chemical weapons are welcome developments that come with strict obligations, the secretary-general said.
Gary Quinlan, Australia's UN ambassador who holds the rotating council presidency for September, said "we require urgent action undertaken through the council and the council is certainly unified in its condemnation of the use of chemical weapons anywhere, anytime by anyone."
"We very much welcome the agreement reached over the weekend between Russia and the United States to develop a mechanism to destroy Syria's chemical weapon stock pile and we agreed a resolution is essential to that process and we have agreed and ( are) working now on a resolution that needs to include as the agreement reached over the weekend between the United States and Russia," Quinlan said.
Earlier on Monday, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers used the new UN report to back her government's stance that the Syrian government had used the chemical weapons.
"The UN report confirms unmistakably that chemical weapons were used in Syria on August 21st," she said. "It is very important to note that the (Syrian) regime possesses Sarin and we have no evidence that the opposition possesses Sarin she told reporters here.
Powers' statement was echoed by her British and French counterparts at the United Nations.
UN: chemical weapons used in Ghouta, Syria, "on a relatively large scale"
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Chemical weapons were used at Ghouta, Syria, on Aug. 21 "on a relatively large scale resulting in numerous casualties, particularly among civilians and including many children," a UN report said Monday.
In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accompanying the report, Ake Sellstrom, the head of the mission that was responsible for investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian capital, said there was evidence rockets and the nerve gas sarin were employed. Full story
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UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- The highly anticipated UN report confirming the use of chemical weapons in Syria on Aug. 21 killing hundreds of people is only five pages long but has unleashed uncountable words of argument.
The report itself was never intended to point fingers, only to determine if chemical weapons were used. Now the debate is in high pitch, with each side citing aspects of the report that buttresses their argument. The divide is classically East-West. Full story