‘Utter Nonsense’: Russia’s Vladimir Putin challenges US on Syria claims

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting on the development of civil shipbuilding in Russia’s fareastern port of Vladivostok, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013. Putin visits the Russian Far East where the worst flooding in 120 years has already forced about 20,000 people from their homes. (AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has challenged the US to present to the UN evidence that Syria attacked rebels with chemical weapons near Damascus.

Mr Putin said it would be “utter nonsense” for Syria’s government to provoke opponents with such attacks.

US President Barack Obama says he is considering military action against Syria after intelligence reports that 1,429 people were killed on 21 August.

UN weapons inspectors have left Syria after gathering evidence for four days.

Speaking to journalists in the Russian far-eastern city of Vladivostok, Mr Putin urged Mr Obama – as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate – to think about future victims in Syria before using force.

He said it was ridiculous to suggest the Syrian government was to blame for the attack.

“Syrian government troops are on the offensive and have surrounded the opposition in several regions,” he said.

“In these conditions, to give a trump card to those who are calling for a military intervention is utter nonsense.”

“So I’m convinced that is nothing more than a provocation by those who want to drag other countries into the Syrian conflict.”

He said that the US failure to present evidence to the international community was “simply disrespectful”.

“If there is evidence it should be shown. If it is not shown, then there isn’t any,” he said.

The main findings of the released unclassified summary of the US evidence state that:

  • the attack killed 1,429 people, including 426 children
  • Syrian military chemical weapons personnel were operating in the area in the three days before the attack
  • Satellite evidence shows rockets launched from government-help areas 90 minutes before first report of chemical attack
  • 100 videos attributed to the attack show symptoms consistent with exposure to nerve agent
  • Communications were intercepted involving a senior Damascus official who “confirmed chemical weapons were used” and was concerned about UN inspectors obtaining evidence

via BBC News

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