Syrian government forces bolstered by Russian air strikes are making progress in the battleground city of Aleppo, rolling back the short-lived gains of a rebel offensive.
A watchdog voiced concerns meanwhile over reports of a chlorine gas attack on Tuesday in nearby Saraqeb, close to where Russia said one of its helicopters was shot down the day before, killing the five people on board.
The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it “continues to examine any credible reports” of such attacks in the war-ravaged country.
It came as Moscow alleged a “poisonous agent” was fired on Tuesday in the Salaheddin district of Aleppo from an area controlled by militants of the Nureddin al-Zenki rebel group, killing seven people.
Russia expects that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will promptly pay attention to the use of war gases in Syria by militants of the so-called moderate opposition and conduct a relevant investigation, Mikhail Ulyanov, the Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, told TASS on Thursday.
“Reports on the use of chemicals in Aleppo by a certain group linked to the so-called moderate opposition, according to US estimates, have been confirmed by the Russian military working on the ground,” he said. “Essentially, this gives reason to the OPCW and even makes it necessary to carry out a relevant investigation.”
“Of course, sending international experts to the scene in Aleppo where hostilities are underway may be difficult for safety reasons,” the diplomat went on to say. “However, the OPCW’s objective is to be fully impartial and, of course, not to focus only on the cases when the opposition makes accusations against the Syrian armed forces over the alleged use of chemical substances for military purposes.”
We keep hearing about a ‘moderate opposition’ instead of calling them what they are. These are radical Islamic jihadi terror groups, Jim Jatras, former U.S. diplomat and GOP Senate policy adviser, told RT.
RT: Given the complex situation on the ground it is always difficult to determine who has done what, but with the repeated allegations, why does the U.S. continue to support groups which are being accused of committing war crimes?
Jim Jatras: I wish I knew the answer to that question. They’ve been doing it for five years, and of course you know that the American media don’t make it real clear the nature of the groups we’re supporting in Syria. We keep hearing about a moderate opposition instead of calling them what they are. These are radical Islamic jihadi terror groups – the same ones we keep saying we’re worried about launching attacks here in the United States. And here we are supporting groups in Syria that have this jihadist ideology, cut off heads of little kids, use chemical weapons and I don’t think the American people really make the connection because the media does not report it.
On Wednesday, Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation commander Lt. Gen. Sergei Chvarkov stated that the opposition group Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki used poisonous gas in Aleppo city on August 2.
“[We] are looking into these allegations as well as the allegations of chlorine gas that was used by the regime in the town of Saraqib,” Toner told reporters. “We would call on the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] as well as the UN to use existing mechanisms to investigate these allegations thoroughly.”