World News

Russia, West Remain Divided on Syria Gas Attack

Russia and Western powers remain divided on who was responsible for a chemical weapons attack in Syria, but are continuing to work together toward a United Nations resolution on the removal of Syria's chemical arsenal.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday the attack last month near Damascus was likely a "provocation" by rebels seeking to draw in outside military help.

His French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, told a joint news conference after their meeting in Moscow that evidence presented in a report by U.N. investigators released Monday "seems to leave no doubt" that Syrian forces were the ones who deployed chemical weapons.

The inspection report presented to the U.N. Security Council does not assess blame for the attack. But the report's underlying evidence, including the trajectory of poison-filled rockets, was cited by the United States and its Western allies as proof of the Syrian government's responsibility.



Lavrov downplayed the discovery of Cyrillic letters on one of the rockets, saying other nations have been copying old Soviet weapons. The Soviet Union is widely believed to have sponsored Syria's original chemical weapons program.

Russia opposes a push by France, Britain and the U.S. to include in the U.N. measure a threat of force if Syria does not comply. The U.S. and Britain say they want a strong resolution that sets precise and binding deadlines for Syria to give up its chemical stockpile.

Lavrov said Russia "spoke clearly" about rejecting the use-of-force clause when the chemical weapons agreement was worked out in Geneva. But he added that if signs emerge that Syria is not fulfilling the agreement or there are reports of further chemical weapons use "then the Security Council will examine the situation."

The U.N. report cites "clear and convincing evidence" that deadly sarin gas was used on a relatively large scale in an attack last month near Damascus. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the evidence gathered by U.N. inspectors "indisputably" and "overwhelmingly" confirms the use of poison gas.

Mr. Ban described the attack as a war crime and said 85 percent of blood samples from the victims showed evidence of sarin gas. He also said recovered fragments from surface-to-surface delivery rockets showed sarin use "beyond doubt and beyond the pale."

The report itself cited survivors describing "a military attack with shelling," followed by an onset of symptoms including "blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and an eventual loss of consciousness."

Meanwhile, Syrian activists said a car bomb exploded at the main, rebel-held Bab al-Hawa border crossing into Turkey Tuesday, injuring several people.

The explosion occurred at a roadblock manned by Islamist brigades at the entrance of the rebel-held crossing. It came a day after Turkey shot down a Syrian helicopter that had entered Turkish airspace.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs