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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

US Claims About Syrian Chemical Attack ‘Unimaginable Nonsense’ : Viladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the US on Saturday saying that Washington’s allegations about the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against civilians were "unimaginable nonsense.”

“Common sense speaks for itself – government troops are advancing, in some regions they surrounded the insurgents,” Putin said. “In such conditions, giving a trump card to those who have always been calling for a foreign military intervention is simply unimaginable nonsense.”

“I am sure this was no more than a provocation by those looking to drag other countries [into the conflict] and obtain support of powerful international player, particularly the United States,” Putin said about the chemical attack that reportedly killed hundreds last week.

The United States said that the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad were behind the attack, but these claims require solid proof, Putin said, marking the first time he weighed in on the topic.

“Claims that the proof exists, but is classified and cannot be presented to anybody are below criticism,” Putin said during a trip to the far eastern city of Vladivostok. “This is plain disrespect for their partners.”

The White House released a report Friday blaming Assad’s regime for the attack, which cited “human, signals and geospatial intelligence,” as well as open source materials such as social media reports and videos of the alleged attack. The report explicitly stated that it omitted certain classified evidence, which was only made available to the US Congress.

Putin said Saturday that Russia denounced the use of chemical weapons and was ready for “consolidated participation in drafting measures to oppose such acts.”

He also denied discussing possible US military strikes on Syrian targets with his US counterpart Barack Obama on the phone.

But Putin said he was hoping to take up the Syrian issue with Obama during the upcoming G20 summit in Russia’s St. Petersburg on September 5-6.

Obama has explicitly blamed Assad for the attack and threatened missile and bomb strikes against selected Syrian targets in retribution for using weapons of mass destructions. He denied plans for a ground invasion of Syria or Assad’s overthrow. Damascus has called the attacks a provocation by rebels it is battling since 2011.

A UN investigative team was dispatched on the site of the attack and is expected to present its findings in mid-September, but its mandate is limited to establishing whether the attack took place, not naming the guilty parties.

The British parliament ruled Thursday against supporting a possible US military operation in Syria. Putin said Saturday he was “astonished” by the move, which, he added, was made by people “motivated by nation’s interests and common sense.”

More than 100,000 died in internal strife in Syria since the conflict’s outbreak, according to UN figures.

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