September 18, 2013 9:46:14 AM
MOSCOW -- Syria has turned over materials to Russia which aim to show that a chemical weapons attack last month was carried out by the rebels, a top Russian diplomat visiting Damascus says.
The Aug. 21 attack precipitated the current high tensions over Syria's chemical weapons and sparked a plan under which Syria is to abandon the weapons. A report by U.N. investigators confirmed that chemical weapons were used Aug. 21 but did not say by which side in Syria's civil war.
The ITAR-Tass news agency on Wednesday quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying that Syria told Russian officials the material "bears witness to the rebels participating in the chemical attack" but that Russia has not yet drawn any conclusions.
Ryabkov was meeting Wednesday with Syrian President Bashar Assad, Russian news agencies reported. There were no immediate details on the talks.
Russia has been Syria's main ally since the start of the conflict in March 2011, blocking proposed U.N. resolutions that would impose sanctions on Assad's regime and opposing an attempt to authorize the use of force if Syria does not abide by the agreement to get rid of its chemical weapons.
Assigning responsibility for the Aug. 21 attack has become a heated international diplomatic issue.