BEIRUT (AP) - Russia's military is rejecting claims that Syrian government forces used chemical weapons in an attack on the rebel-held town of Douma.
Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko was quoted by Russian news agencies on Sunday as saying Russia was prepared to "promptly send Russian specialists in radiation, chemical and biological protection to Douma after its liberation from fighters to gather data that will confirm the fabricated nature of these statements."
Yevtushenko said "a number of Western countries" are trying to prevent the resumption of an operation to remove Army of Islam fighters from Douma and "to this end they are using the West's pet theme of the use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces."
Russia is a key ally of President Bashar Assad, whose forces have been accused of using chemical weapons in past attacks that killed hundreds of people. The Syrian government has denied ever using chemical weapons.
Opposition-linked Syrian medics and first responders say a chemical attack in Douma late Saturday killed at least 40 people. The reports could not be independently confirmed.
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