Russia: Syria rebels likely behind Aleppo chemical attack
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russian scientific analysis indicates a deadly projectile that hit a suburb of the Syrian city of Aleppo on March 19 contained the nerve agent sarin and was most likely fired by rebels, Russia's U.N. envoy said on Tuesday.
The incident at Khan al-Assal in the northern province of Aleppo killed more than two dozen people. Both the government and rebels have blamed each other for what they say was an attack involving chemical weapons. Both sides also deny using chemical weapons.
Moscow's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said Russian experts visited the location where the projectile struck and took their own samples of material from the site. Those samples, he said, were then analyzed at a Russian laboratory certified by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
"The results of the analysis clearly indicate that the ordnance used in Khan al-Assal was not industrially manufactured and was filled with sarin," he said.
"The projectile involved is not a standard one for chemical use," Churkin said. "Hexogen, utilized as an opening charge, is not utilized in standard ammunitions. Therefore, there is every reason to believe that it was armed opposition fighters who used the chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal."
Churkin said he had informed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the Russian findings.