Russia has sharply criticized the new United Nations report on the August 21 gas attack in Syria, calling it "biased, incomplete, distorted and one-sided."
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also said Wednesday that Syria has provided new evidence revealing that rebels were the ones who carried out the deadly attack last month outside Damascus.
His remarks came a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also questioned the U.N. report, saying there are "serious grounds to believe" the incident was a provocation carried out by the rebel side.
Asked about the Russian criticisms, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky called the findings in the report "indisputable." He said "they speak for themselves and this was a thoroughly objective report on that specific incident."
Western countries and human rights groups said the findings, presented earlier this week, implicated the Syrian regime in using sarin for that attack. They cited the report's detailed annexes on the types of weapons used, their trajectories and the amount of gas they carried.
Despite their disagreement on the report, Russia, China, France, Britain and the United States have agreed to work toward a United Nations resolution governing the removal of Syria's chemical arsenal.
UN Report on Ghouta Attack
Chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale
Environmental, chemical and medical evidence provides clear evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing sarin were used
Impacted and exploded surface-to-surface rockets were found to contain sarin
Close to rocket impact sites, the environment was found to contain sarin
Patients/survivors were diagnosed as intoxicated by an organophosphorous compound
Blood and urine samples from those patients were positive for sarin and sarin signatures
Diplomats from those countries, which make up the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, are due to gather again Wednesday to discuss the proposed resolution. Their main roadblock is whether to include the threat of military action to enforce the measure, which Russia and China have opposed.
Syria's deputy foreign minister said his government is confident the United Nations will not adopt the resolution under Chapter VII, which could allow the use of force if Damascus does not uphold the disarmament plan.
Also Wednesday, chief U.N. chemical weapons inspector Ake Sellstrom said his team will return to Syria "within weeks" to follow up on several more allegations of chemical weapons use.
Sellstrom, head of the inspection team that went to Syria last month, said the group will evaluate "allegations of chemical weapons use from both sides, but perhaps mainly from the Syrian government's side."
He said there are 13 or 14 alleged incidents that "have to be investigated," adding that inspectors would not be addressing the question of who was responsible for the August 21 gas attack in which the United States claims more than 1,400 people died.