Moscow is deeply alarmed by fresh reports that extremists used chemical weapons on Syrian soil. This information must be thoroughly verified and investigated says a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Recent reports from the region suggest that Jihadist groups, primarily Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, have stepped up their activities against the Kurdish communities in northeastern Syria. The insurgents besieged a number of Kurdish populated areas, which dramatically complicated the already difficult humanitarian situation in the region, whose residents are short of food, medicines, and other necessities.
At the same time, local self-governing bodies still manage to keep the situation under control, and Kurdish self-defense committees have dealt a number of serious blows to the attacking Islamist forces. In particular, Kurdish forces seized a checkpoint near the town of al-Yaarubia and the town itself on October 26, which helped unblock an important supply channel of primary necessities for Kurdish communities and significantly curbed Syrian oil smuggling by insurgents.
Rebuffed by Kurdish self-defense forces defending their homes, the Jihadists reportedly used chemical weapons against them in the city of Ras al-Ayn near the Turkish border on October 29.
Russia has expressed its indignation over the lack of coverage that western media has given to the report on Syrian rebels using chemical weapons against the local Kurdish community.
Alexei Pushkov, a Russian lawmaker and chief of the Parliamentary foreign affairs committee, has drawn attention to the media blackout on the gassing in the Kurdish city of al-Hasakah in Syria's northeast.
According to Beirut-based TV channel, al-Mayadeen, Islamist insurgents attacked the settlement in the Kurds-dominated region of Ras al-Ain yesterday, however the news only appeared in the media a day later.
The radicals allegedly fired a missile, at Kurdish positions on the Turkish border, that emitted a suspicious yellow smoke. Locals said they felt dizzy after a while and had other symptoms of chemical poisoning.
Syrian rebel fighters have used war chemicals against Kurdish militias in the northeast of Syria near the Turkish border, according to Al-Mayadeen Lebanese TV channel's report earlier this Wednesday.
According to the TV channel, the fighters used chemical weapons yesterday near a Kurdish militia post in the city of Al-Hasakah, in the Ras Al-Ayn region. But the attack was not reported until earlier today, the TV channel says.
When a shell, containing a war gas, that was fired at Kurds by rebels burst, the militia saw yellow smoke. Then symptoms of severe chemical poisoning followed by nausea spread through the militias, the channel reports.
The attack was mounted on the second day of fighting for the city.
Meanwhile, Damascus has been reported to be cooperating with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW, and is engaged in scrapping its war chemicals.
In keeping with the OPCW schedule, Damascus should destroy all of its facilities to produce and deliver chemicals weapons by November 1st. The government in Damascus is due to scrap all its chemical arsenals by next summer.
Some 300 mass graves have been discovered in eastern Turkey. Kurds, who died in an armed struggle between the Turkish army and the Kurdistan Workers' Party, are supposedly buried there. They may have been victims of chemical attacks, Raci Bilici, head of the Diyarbakir branch of the Human Rights Association, said in an interview with the Voice of Russia.
According to Raci Bilici, human rights activists will insist on sending international experts to the site for a thorough investigation:
We did a colossal job to discover mass graves in Turkey's Kurd-populated areas. We found around 300 mass graves containing the remains of thousands of people. Our work is continuing and the number of discovered graves is increasing. This is our part of an investigation. Now experts such as forensics and criminologists should be involved. It's a different story, a different kind of job requiring qualified professionals and what is important, highly qualified ones. As far as our Association is concerned, we're ready to contribute in every possible way. We've reached a point, when the problem should be paid special attention. That's why we're planning to set up a foundation whose main activity will be identifying people whose remains we find in the graves.
We've opened around 20 graves so far. It was not done properly enough as, for the most part, it was local people's initiative and efforts as they hoped to find bodies of missing relatives. In a few cases building equipment was deployed. However, we can't keep on working this way.
The information that was obtained during the excavations could prove helpful in the identification of the dead. However, all of them were affected by the bad weather as well as by the improper approach to the exhumation. Therefore, we have suspended this work. Post-mortem examinations will continue in full compliance with international rules and under the control of the foundation we are going to set up.
This foundation is expected to reveal how all these people in the graves died. Earlier several statements were made to the effect that all of them had fallen victim to the use of chemical weapons. At the moment one can neither confirm nor disprove these statements. However, there is reason to believe that everything will become clear soon. Then the legal aspect will emerge. Therefore, during the post-mortem examination the presence of representatives of international agencies is a must and we will insist on that.
We believe that the Turkish government will demonstrate interest in joint work in this field. All the victims in these graves must be identified, and all those who are responsible for these crimes convicted.