By Arab News
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Thursday it does not believe Syria’s Air Force bombed civilians with chemical agents in April, days after a U.N. report blamed the Syrian government.
Russia made the conclusion that chemical weapons could not have been used on Khan Shaykhun, Syria, from the Su-22 plane used by Syria’s Air Force, the Russian news agency Tass reported, quoting an unnamed Defense Ministry spokesman.
“After studying the materials submitted, I see several aspects that do not allow making a conclusion that chemical weapons in the form of an air bomb were used from a Su-22 aircraft of the Syrian Air Force,” he said.
Russia claims, after studying a report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations, that the chemical bomb that exploded in Khan Shaykhun left a rectangular-shaped crater on the ground, while an airdrop bomb would leave an elliptical or round hole.
The evidence, the spokesman noted, is “convincing enough to conclude that at the moment of the explosion the bomb was static and lying on the asphalt surface.”
The Russian announcement came days after the U.N. found Syrian President Bashar Assad and his government were behind the attack that killed more than 100 people on April 4.
The White House released a statement on the official attack report on Thursday, noting the U.N. concluded “with confidence” that the Assad regime used sarin in Khan Shaykhun. The report came from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and U.N. Joint Investigative Mechanism.
The White House also criticized Russia as having a role in the chemical assault.
“This unconscionable attack marks the fourth time that the JIM has confirmed that the Assad regime used chemical weapons, underscoring the brutal and horrifying barbarism of Bashar al-Assad and making the protection provided by Russia even more egregious,” the statement said.
“Russia’s attempts to undermine and eliminate the JIM show a callous disregard for the suffering and loss of life caused by the use of chemical weapons and an utter lack of respect for international norms.”