Syria’s Ally Russia Tries to Shift Blame for Devastating Chemical Attack
BEIRUT — Russian officials blamed Syrian rebels on Wednesday for a chemical attack which killed scores of people, many of them women and children, and has been widely attributed to the Syrian government.
The Russian claim — strongly denied by a rebel commander — reflects attempts by Moscow to shield its Syrian government allies after global condemnation for the attack that left victims gasping for breath and foaming at the mouth.
The World Health Organization said Wednesday that the symptoms bore all the hallmarks of a chemical attack, possibly a banned nerve agent. Syrian forces also have used chlorine-based weapons.
Syrian rebel commander Hasan Haj Ali told the Reuters news agency that the Russian assertion was “a lie,” saying the rebels didn’t have the capabilities to produce chemical weapons and there were no military positions in the area bombed, either.