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US media speculated on Wednesday that the White House would order a strike against Syrian targets in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of people near the capital Damascus. The US and its allies says there is clear evidence implicating the government of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and his forces in the attack.
On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US had undeniable evidence that Damascus was responsible for the attack, which he called a “moral obscenity.” However, he did not provide further details to the media.
Assad’s government has vehemently denied the accusation and said Washington “fabricated” the evidence to scuttle the efforts of a 20-member UN inspection team already in Syria to determine who used chemical weapons
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi that imposing a military solution to the Syria crisis would only destabilise the country and the Middle East, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.
“Lavrov noted that a political and diplomatic settlement in Syria has no alternative, underlining that the attempts of a forcible solution will result only in further destabilisation of the situation in the country and the region,” the ministry said in an online statement.
The Arab League appeared to support Western allegations against Syria on Tuesday when it announced that it held the Bashar government “fully responsible” for the alleged chemical attack.
It also urged the UN Security Council to act.
It is unlikely that the Council will authorise action – permanent members China and Russia would likely veto any such move.
For its part, the United Nations Secretariat is urging diplomatic means run their full course. On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged that Washington give the UN inspectors in Syria more time to complete their work.
“Let them conclude … their work for four days and then we will have to analyze scientifically” their findings and send a report to the Security Council,” Ban said.
He added that the inspectors had already “gathered valuable samples and interviewed victims and witnesses.”
In the meantime, Lavrov spoke with Kerry during a phone exchange and rejected accusations blaming Damascus.
Lavrov called for a “meaningful and profound” exchange of expert information on the cases of chemical-weapons use in Syria, said the ministry.