18 Sep 2013

Russia suspects rebels staged Syria sarin gas attack

7:44 am on 18 September 2013

Russia still suspects a chemical weapons attack in Damascus was carried out by rebel forces, despite a report by United Nations investigators which France says shows the Syrian regime was behind the attack.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius held talks in Moscow on Tuesday after a UN team confirmed that sarin, a deadly nerve gas, was used on 21 August when 1429 civilians died.

Mr Lavrov said there have been "many provocations" aimed at provoking foreign intervention by the rebels fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Mr Fabius said the UN report was convincing and left no doubt that Assads forces were to blame.

Mr Lavrov acknowledged that the UN report proved that chemical weapons had been used but said there were a lot of questions unanswered, including whether the weapons were produced in a factory or home-made.

"We have very serious grounds to believe that this was a provocation. We want the events of 21 August to be investigated dispassionately, objectively and professionally," he said.