Syria, Iran, Russia seek chemical arms probe

Moscow: Syria and its two main military backers, Russia and Iran, have jointly called for an investigation into a recent deadly incident involving chemical weapons in Syria.
The “thorough and objective” investigation should be conducted under the auspices of the international Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow on Friday, flanked by his Syrian and Iranian counterparts. At least 87 people were killed in the rebel town of Khan Sheikhoun in north-western Syria on April 4 in a chemical weapons attack widely blamed on Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime.
Days later, the US launched a missile strike on the Shayrat airbase in central Syria, a major state military facility that the White House said was responsible for the chemical attack.
Lavrov’s talks with Syrian counterpart Walid al Moallem and Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif focused on the US missile strike, which they jointly condemned as an attack on a sovereign state and thus a violation of international law, Lavrov told reporters.
Lavrov, in an earlier meeting with Zarif, praised Iran’s collaboration with Russia in the fight against terrorism, primarily in war-torn Syria.
“This is happening in parallel with our efforts to ensure a ceasefire between the [Syrian] government and the armed opposition that does not have terrorist ambitions, as well as efforts to establish apolitical process,” Lavrov said, according to a Foreign Ministry transcript.
Lavrov also met with Syria’s Al Moallem the previous day to discuss the military and political situation in Syria following the US missile strike.
“Lavrov confirmed Russia’s unwavering support for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. A day before that, Lavrov met with his US counterpart, Rex Tillerson, in Moscow for talks that also focused on the Syrian conflict.
Tillerson emphasised a need to rebuild US-Russian ties, but at the same time condemned Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar al Assad, whose regime the US has implicated in crimes against humanity, including attacks on civilians with chemical weapons. — dpa

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