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OPCW says Russian samples may be used in Syria investigation

Posted November 22

— Russia has offered to provide samples linked to alleged chemical weapon use in the Syrian city of Aleppo to the international chemical weapons watchdog, the organization said Tuesday.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said that Russia recently offered it "some samples and other material in relation to an incident of alleged use of chemicals as weapons in Aleppo." The organization said the samples "may be of use in the ongoing work of the OPCW fact-finding mission," which is investigating allegations of chemical attacks in Syria.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said on Nov. 11 that ministry experts found unexploded ordnance and fragments of munitions containing chlorine and white phosphorus on Aleppo's southwestern outskirts. Konashenkov said the discovery proved that militants have used chemical weapons against civilians and Syrian soldiers.

The Syrian National Coalition, a main opposition group, denied that rebels used chemical weapons in Aleppo. It says that the shells that were fired are similar to those used by government forces and militias fighting with them. The SNC called on U.N. organizations to open an investigation.

The U.S. and its allies have pushed for sanctions on Syria for using chemical weapons. Russia has questioned international investigators' conclusions linking chemical weapons use to its ally, the Syrian government, and pointed at evidence of their use by the militants.

The U.N. Security Council has voted to extend the mandate of inspectors working to determine those responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

The OPCW has suggested Russia hand over the material in Damascus or The Hague because Aleppo is too dangerous. Russia has not yet responded.

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