The Syrian army has discovered a storehouse belonging to rebels in the Damascus area of Jobar, where toxic chemical substances – including chlorine – have been produced and kept, State TV reported.
Military sources reported that the militants “were preparing to fire mortars in the suburbs of the capital and were going to pack missiles with chemical warheads.”
A video shot by RT’s sister channel Russia Al Youm shows an old, partly ruined building which was set up as a laboratory. After entering the building, Syrian Army officers found scores of canisters and bags laid on the floor and tables. According to a warning sign on the bags, the “corrosive” substance was made in Saudi Arabia.
On July 7, the Syrian army confiscated “281 barrels filled with dangerous, hazardous chemical materials” that they found at a cache belonging to rebels in the city of Banias. The chemicals included monoethylene glycol and polyethylene glycol.
Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said that the chemicals were “capable of destroying a whole city, if not the whole country.”
Chief UN chemical weapons investigator Ake Sellstrom and UN disarmament chief Angela Kane are expected in Damascus for talks on Monday, following an invitation from the Syrian government.
It is now crucial to find out where the rebels are getting the chemicals from, defense consultant Moeen Raouff told RT.
“The Syrian military has been doing an extremely good job of protecting the nation,” he said. “And if they found this alleged factory than we need to know what the origins of the chemicals are, if they came through the Turkish, Jordanian, Iraqi or Lebanese borders.”
Raouff added that the discovery is unlikely to change the West’s attitude toward the Syrian rebels.
“The Western allies are intent on toppling Assad,” he stressed. “Again, they’re going for a case like Iraq and Libya. They’re going after one man and destroying the whole nation. So, I doubt that there’ll be a major reaction. And the Security Council hasn’t reacted to this situation prior to this.”
Earlier this week, Russia submitted to the UN its analysis of samples taken in Aleppo, where chemical weapons were allegedly used in March.
Russia’s findings indicated that it was rebels – not the Syrian army – behind the Khan al-Assal incident, in which more than 30 people died.
“It was determined that on March 19 the rebels fired an unguided missile Bashair-3 at the town of Khan al-Assal, which has been under government control. The results of the analysis clearly show that the shell used in Khan al-Assal was not factory made and that it contained sarin,” Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said.
Syrian rebel groups denied the accusations, in turn blaming government forces.
The United States cast doubt on the Russian analysis. In response, Russia’s Foreign Minister SergeyLavrov underlined that the samples of the chemical weapons had been taken at the very place where they were used and were delivered by Russian experts rather than passed through third-party hands.
“We submitted a full set of documents [to the UN]. That’s over 80 pages, including photographs and precise geographic coordinates [of places where samples were taken], procedures and results,” Lavrov pointed out. “We also guarantee that the samples were taken by experts who did not let go of them till they were delivered to the laboratory.”
Damascus was the first to accuse opposition fighters of launching a chemical weapon attack, and the first to request the UN investigation.
The investigation became stuck after a group of Western nations insisted on launching an inquiry into a separate case of alleged chemical weapons use in Homs in December 2012. The investigation requires access to military objects, which Damascus has been unwilling to give.
So far, the UN has not found any conclusive evidence proving that either side of the conflict used chemical weapons.
Meanwhile, the US, UK and France have submitted several reports in which they claim there is evidence that the Assad government used chemical weapons.