- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2013

Insurgents fighting Syria’s government likely used chemical weapons in March, according to the summary of an investigation that Russia has made public for the first time this week.

The March 19 attack, which killed 26 and injured 86, including civilians and Syrian troops, took place in the Aleppo suburb of Khan al-Assal, according to the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s website. The ministry on Wednesday posted a “commentary … concerning the investigations into the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”

According to the commentary, investigators found that:

• The attack was carried out using “crudely produced [ammunition] whose type and parameters were similar to those of the unguided rockets produced in Syria’s north by the so-called Bashair al-Nasr brigade;”

• The gas-filled round was detonated using the explosive hexogen, “which is not used in standard chemical munitions.”

• Soil samples revealed “non-industrially synthesized nerve agent sarin and diisopropylfluorophosphate, which Western countries used for chemical weapons purposes in World War II years.”

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The investigators sent a 100-page technical report on their findings to the U.N. secretary-general on July 9, the commentary said.

The ministry says the soil and other analyses were carried out by a Russian laboratory “certified by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons at the request of the Syrian authorities.”

Russia is Syria’s main ally outside the Middle East and — along with Iran — a major sponsor of and arms supplier to the regime of President Bashar Assad.

A translation of the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s posting was provided by military intelligence analyst John McCreary in his daily e-letter NightWatch.

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