* Russia calls for investigation into alleged chemical
* Says rocket was released from area controlled by
* Alleged attack could be "provocation"
(Adds details, quotes)
MOSCOW, Aug 21 Russia's Foreign Ministry called
for a thorough investigation on Wednesday into reports that
Syrian government forces had launched a chemical attack,
suggesting that rebels could have staged the assault to provoke
Syria's opposition accused President Bashar al-Assad's
forces of gassing many hundreds of people - by one report as
many as 1,300 - on Wednesday in what would, if confirmed, be the
world's worst chemical weapons attack in decades.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that
its sources in Syria said that a homemade rocket carrying
unidentified chemical substances had been launched from an area
controlled by the opposition.
"All this cannot but suggest that once again we are dealing
with a pre-planned provocation," Lukashevich said in a
"This is supported by the fact that the criminal act was
committed near Damascus at the very moment when a mission of
U.N. experts had successfully started their work of
investigating allegations of the possible use of chemical
weapons there," he said.
Russia has protected Assad during the more than two-year
conflict in Syria, vetoing U.N. sanctions aimed at pressuring
him to end violence.
Moscow has also demanded that a U.N. investigation into the
alleged use of chemical weapons also look into possible use by
"Moscow considers important an objective and professional
investigation into what happened. And we call on all those who
have the possibility to influence armed extremists make every
effort to end provocations with chemical agents," Lukashevich
(Reporting By Thomas Grove; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)