Watchdog accepts Russia offer to aid Aleppo chemical attacks probe


The Hague (AFP)

A global watchdog probing chemical arms attacks in Aleppo Tuesday took Russia up on an offer to provide some possible evidence saying it "may be of use" to their investigation.

The Russian military said on November 11 that it had evidence of the use of chemical weapons by rebels in Syria's besieged eastern city of Aleppo.

The military said in a statement that its experts "have found unexploded artillery ammunition belonging to terrorists which contains toxic substances."

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Tuesday it had "recently received an offer from Russian authorities to provide some samples and other material in relation to an incident of alleged use of chemicals as weapons in Aleppo."

"These samples and other material may be of use in the ongoing work of the OPCW fact-finding mission," the organisation said in a statement.

It said it had "proposed" to the Russian foreign ministry that given the ongoing conflict in Aleppo, it would be better "to receive such material in Damascus or The Hague."

"At present, the OPCW is awaiting a response," the statement added.

The OPCW, based in The Hague, has launched a fact-finding mission to investigate chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

The mission is feeding its reports to a joint UN-OPCW panel, whose mandate has just been extended for a year.

The OPCW chief, Ahmet Uzumcu, told AFP last week his organisation had received more than 20 reports of chemical attacks since August 1.

On Tuesday, Syrian pro-government forces pushed deeper into eastern Aleppo with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights saying some residents of the Qaterji and Dahjer Awad districts experienced breathing difficulties after four barrel bombs were dropped which may have contained chlorine gas.