Russia should insist that its own qualified personnel and its own translators accompany the UN investigators. It seems obvious to me that the Syrian rebels, who are backed by the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, are using the familiar strategy of a false-flag attack as a pretext for demanding US/NATO intervention on their behalf.
Moscow has called for an independent investigation by United Nations experts into allegations that the Syrian government carried out a deadly chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus.
The statement released by the Russian foreign ministry on Friday said Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister, and the US secretary of state, John Kerry, had discussed the situation by telephone on Thursday and concluded that they had a “mutual interest” in calling for the UN investigation.
The statement said Russia had called for President Bashar al-Assad’s embattled government to co-operate with an investigation, but questions remained about the willingness of the opposition, “which must secure safe access of the mission to the location of the incident”.
Russia has been one of Assad’s key allies in the international arena. Moscow has asserted that the attack was “a homemade rocket loaded with an unidentified chemical agent” and that it was probably a provocation by opposition forces intended to implicate the Syrian president.
Earlier, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, renewed his push for Syria to allow UN inspectors immediate access to the site of the alleged attack.
“I can think of no good reason why any party, either government or opposition forces – would decline this opportunity to get to the truth of the matter,” he said at a diplomatic forum in Seoul.
Syria’s government has offered no public response to UN calls for its team to inspect the site of the attack, in which opponents of Assad said 500 to more than 1,000 people died.