28-09-2016 03:00 AM Jerusalem Timing

Lavrov: UN Team Did Not Visit Khan al-Assal Chemical Attack Site

Lavrov: UN Team Did Not Visit Khan al-Assal Chemical Attack Site

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed the matter of investigating the source of March’s chemical weapons attack in Khan al-Assal near Aleppo.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov disLavrovcussed the matter of investigating the source of March’s chemical weapons attack in Khan al-Assal near Aleppo, according to Russia Today.

“We are working on the assumption that the August 21 incident was not an isolated one, which is up to Ake Sellstrom’s team of UN inspectors to determine,”  said at a Tuesday press conference in Moscow.

The UN team’s mission ended and on Monday they left Syria after inspecting seven suspected incidents of chemical weapons use. Lavrov noted that Khan al-Assal site of Aleppo chemical attack was left unattended.

“The way I understand it, they surveyed several more places, but still did not reach the outskirts of Aleppo, where March’s incident involving chemical weapons took place… we would like to ascertain if a full report is on its way, because the experts could not gain access to every site.”

According to Lavrov, “we will probe for the truth” in any case.

The Russian Foreign Ministry had announced that Russian experts will join the UN chemical team.

West May Fail to Bring Syrian Opposition to Geneva Talks in Time

The Russian top diplomat has expressed doubts that the West will be successful in getting the Syrian opposition to take part in the ‘Geneva-2’ peace conference, which he expects to take place in mid-November.

Lavrov, stressing that this needs to happen, suggested that getting “rational members” of the opposition on board is a priority, RIA Novosti reports.

He said there is still a lack of clarity regarding who will participate in the anticipated peace talks, "which is a big problem."

Lavrov confirmed that a substantial number of the opposition’s commanders have broken free of Syrian National Coalition control.

“While this whole business drags on, the radical, Extremist elements of the opposition, like Al-Nusra Front and others, are gaining in strength.” 

The current issue we are faced with is “not to waste any more time,” Lavrov added. 

The success of the conference rests in the hands of those “who hold bigger sway with the opposition [than Russia]… We work with everyone, but the bigger influence on the opposition is exerted by our Western colleagues and key Middle Eastern states,” the FM stressed. 

“Regarding opposition representation – this remains to be settled. Until recently we have been relying on our Western partners who pledged to push the opposition to the negotiations table and we hoped they would manage it quickly. But so far they have not succeeded. And I am not sure they will by mid-November.”