In a move that should come as a surprise to few, Russia has rejected what amounts to near international consensus regarding those responsible for Tuesday’s chemical attack on Syrian civilians in a rebel controlled region of the country.

The attack, which U.S. officials believe to have been perpetrated using Sarin gas, a chemical weapon banned from use by the United Nations, killed dozens of people, including eleven children, most of whom were below the age of eight years old.  Subsequent air strikes targeted two medical facilities being used to treat the injured that resulted in the attack.

Video footage and gruesome images of the aftermath of the attack have begun to surface around the internet.  Spokesmen from both the United States and the UK have both laid the blame for the attack squarely at the feet of Bashar al-Assad, who has held the presidency in Syria since 2000 and has been repeatedly accused of using chemical agents against his own people in the effort to suppress the rebels inside his country.

In contrast to the outrage demonstrated around the world, Russia chose to blame the victims of the war crime, claiming that the air strike did not utilize chemical weapons, and instead that it must have detonated an ammunition stockpile that included a rebel collection of sarin canisters.

“Russia and its armed forces will continue their operations to support the anti-terrorist operations of Syria’s armed forces to free the country,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The United States, Britain, and France have proposed a draft UN Security Council resolution that would officially place responsibility for the attack on Assad’s regime, but Peskov made it clear that the Russian ambassador intends to argue a different version of events; one where the rebels are held responsible for the attack.  Placing the blame on the rebels would be convenient for both Russia and the Syrian government, as it would constrain international support for the rebels.

Reports from out of Syria sharply contrast Russia’s account of events: “Everyone saw the plane while it was bombing with gas,” Hassan Haj Ali, commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, told Reuters from northwestern Syria. “Likewise, all the civilians in the area know that there are no military positions there, or places for the manufacture (of weapons).”

He went on to call the Russian statement a lie, and claimed that the rebels don’t currently possess the necessary equipment to produce Sarin gas.