No Chemical Arms Seized from Syrian Militants, Turkish Envoy Says

A Turkish envoy to Russia insisted in a Wednesday news conference that suspicious materials seized recently from Syrian militants were harmless and could not be used as chemical weapons, despite Moscow's public suggestions to the contrary, Interfax news agency reported.

"The substance that was intercepted was seized," Aydin Sezgin, Ankara's ambassador to Moscow, told reporters in the Russian capital. "As it turned out, it was antifreeze, and we informed our Russian counterparts about it."

Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he was seeking clarification on early reports that al-Nusra Front rebels had in their possession homemade sarin, a highly lethal nerve agent that Washington and its allies have accused Syrian President Bashar Assad's military of using in the two-year-old civil war. Russia has denounced the accusations and pledged air defense technology and other aid to Assad.

Meantime, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Friday described the conflict in Syria as less of a civil war than a clash of forces from different nations, according to a RIA Novosti report.

"It is more of a fight against forces that, one way or another, are roving between different kinds of conflicts within various states," Shoigu was quoted as saying. He did not offer further elaboration.

July 5, 2013
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A Turkish envoy to Russia insisted in a Wednesday news conference that suspicious materials seized recently from Syrian militants were harmless and could not be used as chemical weapons, despite Moscow's public suggestions to the contrary, Interfax news agency reported.

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