BEIRUT — The Latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local):
Russian officials say a purported chemical attack in Syria was a fabrication staged by British intelligence agencies to pave the way for allied strikes.
Alexander Shulgin, Russia’s envoy at the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, did not provide any evidence of the alleged British involvement, saying only that “there is no other plausible explanation” of the April 7 attack in Douma.
Britain has denied the Russian claim as a “blatant lie.”
Igor Kirillov, a Russian chemical weapons protection expert who visited Douma, said the rebels refused to show any bodies of the victims of the attack. He said Monday at a briefing at The Hague that the only patient who said he was poisoned by chemicals made statements that made it clear he was lying.
The European Union has strongly defended the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and declined to impose new sanctions despite Tehran’s actions in Syria.
EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said that “this was not foreseen to be a decision today,” adding that further consideration on how to deal with Iran’s role in the Syrian conflict “will happen in the coming days or weeks.”
Mogherini sought to draw a clear line between Iran’s adherence to the nuclear agreement and other actions that the EU and U.S. find objectionable. Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and supports militant groups across the region.
U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to withdraw from the 2015 agreement by May 12 unless U.S., British, French and German negotiators can agree to fix what he sees as its serious flaws.
“One thing is clear to all of us,” Mogherini said of the 28 EU nations. “We want to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran. We want to see the full compliance by all to all commitments included in the deal.”
She says the EU takes Iranian activities in the region “extremely seriously, and that is why we already have a sanctions regime in place addressing some of this behaviour.”
The Russian military says Syria’s Russian-made air defence systems proved highly efficient in fending off missile strikes by the U.S. and its allies.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the Russian Defence Ministry spokesman, said Monday that Syria used the Pantsir-S1 air defence systems supplied by Russia along with older Soviet-built air defence missiles to counter Saturday’s strikes by the U.S., Britain and France.
Konashenkov said …read more