China refuses to blame Assad for Syria gas attack
China on Tuesday refused to say whether a United Nations report into a sarin gas attack in Syria showed that government forces had used the banned weapons.
The United Nations on Monday revealed details of the attack, which the United States, Britain and France said showed that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces had carried it out. Russia said that further investigation was needed.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular briefing that Beijing would have a “serious look” at the report, but did not say whether China thought that government forces were responsible when asked.
“The relevant investigation should be carried out by the UN investigation team on an impartial, professional and independent basis,” he said.
China has repeatedly said that it opposed armed intervention by foreign powers in Syria.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria as a ”war crime” after UN experts said they had gathered evidence that surface-to-surface rockets took sarin gas into the opposition-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21.
Ban would not say who had carried out the attack.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said the use of a 122mm rocket and high quality sarin showed the responsibility lay with regime forces.
But Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said after a Security Council meeting on the report that there should be more investigation.
Moscow has in the past sided with Assad in blaming opposition rebels for the use of chemical weapons.
More than 110,000 people have been killed by the 30-month-old conflict in Syria according to activists, while the UN has said more than two million have become refugees.