Gabriel said in an interview on Sunday evening that his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov had told him in a telephone conversation that Moscow would “clear the way to investigate what actually happened there.”
Speaking to German public broadcaster ZDF, Gabriel (pictured on the right with Lavrov) added he hoped it was “a serious offer.”
At least 80 civilians died in the air attack on the town in rebel-held Idlib province last week, prompting an international outcry.The US accused the regime of President Bashar al-Assad (pictured) of using chlorine gas mixed with a highly toxic sarin-like nerve agent in an air attack. Gabriel said that information Germany has received suggested state forces were behind the attack and reiterated that “further military escalation” must be prevented.
“You can not pretend to just talk with Russia and the US, this is also about Iran, Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries,” he said.
An attempt should be made to “use this moment of fear on all sides to get the various parties to the negotiating table,” Gabriel said. Above all, Russia must be dissuaded from “this unbreakable fidelity to Assad.”
“It is important that the UN and experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) gain immediate access and can carry out their investigation without hindrance,” Gabriel told the German newspaper “Bild am Sonntag.”
In a wide-ranging interview with the German newspaper, Gabriel commented “Assad’s future is already behind him.”
The retaliatory US cruise missile strikes on Friday on a Syrian airbase were “understandable,” Gabriel commented.
The missile strikes were the first time the United States has directly targeted al-Assad’s forces in the six-year war. Photo: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
US officials have said they are trying to assess if Russia played a role in aiding or abetting a chemical attack. Russia and Syria have denied carrying out a chemical attack, instead blaming the incident on chemicals being released after an airstrike hit a “terrorist” arsenal.
Remains of a shell which may have contained poison gas Syria agreed to remove its chemical weapons stockpile in 2013 when the US threatened military action after hundreds of people were killed in a sarin chemical attack on a Damascus suburb.
The Syrian government has been accused of carrying out multiple chlorine gas attacks. The OPCW in 2016 said that due to gaps and inconsistencies in Syria’s declaration its compliance with the chemical weapons treaty could not be fully verified. (Pictured: President Assad of Syria)
Use of chlorine weapons is prohibited under the international chemical weapons convention, but production of chlorine is not. Syria’s use and possession of sarin, if proven, would be a major violation and clear indication it did not abide by the 2013 deal.
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