Russia slams expansion of UN Syria chemical arms probe

MOSCOW - Russia criticized Western moves to expand a planned United Nations probe into chemical weapons in Syria and compared it to the build-up to the US invasion of Iraq.
Russia, which has used its clout as a veto-wielding Security Council state to blunt Western pressure on Syria, says the UN probe announced last month should focus on Syrian government allegations rebels used chemical arms near Aleppo.
Western countries want two additional rebel claims about the use of such arms investigated as well. The Syrian opposition says President Bashar Assad's government carried out all three alleged chemical attacks.
In a pointed statement, Russia's Foreign Ministry on Saturday voiced anger over a letter in which it said the UN Secretariat told the Syrian government it intended to broaden the investigation beyond the incident in late March near Aleppo.
It said the UN Secretariat was seeking overly broad access for investigators to facilities and individuals in Syria and wanted to use aircraft for transportation.
"This approach brings to mind the line taken over an investigation into the presence of chemical weapons in Iraq, which was based on deliberately false data and led to well-known consequences," it said, referring to the US-led invasion in 2003.
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