MINSK, May 6 (RAPSI) - Russia does not have reliable information that either of the conflicting parties in Syria has used chemical weapons, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev told reporters on Monday amid escalating tensions in the region.

"I do not think that anyone has solid proof that chemical weapons were used in Syria," he said.

"If someone does have proof, we would like them to publicize this information to confirm that chemical weapons have been used," he added.

Earlier during the day Carla del Ponte, a member of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said that the chemical weapon might have been used by the opposition forces. "This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities," she said in an interview with Swiss-Italian television, adding that there is still lack of incontrovertible proof.

Officials in Damascus said opposition fighters unleashed a chemical attack near the city of Aleppo, the country's economic capital, on March 19. As many as 31 people were allegedly killed, including 16 military servicemen, and 130 others were injured when attackers fired a rocket loaded with chemical agents, causing gas poisoning.

Meanwhile, the opposition claims that the government used chemical weapons against them in Homs in December.

The White House and the Pentagon said on April 25 that the government forces could have used sarin several times, citing US intelligence sources.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated earlier at a news conference regarding that Moscow has called for an immediate investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons by all parties in Syria.

The armed conflict between the Syrian government and the opposition has continued since March 2011. According to the UN, 70,000 people have been killed in the country during this period. The authorities also claim that they are fighting well-organized and armed local militants and foreign mercenaries.