Vladimir Putin says he “does not exclude” that Russia may agree with a military operation if it is proved that the Syrian government is behind the chemical attack, however he emphasized that in accordance with international law a decision of the UN Security Council is needed.
Leaders of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said they reached an agreement on a draft authorisation for the use of military force in Syria, paving the way for a vote by the committee on Wednesday. Among other provisions, the draft, which was obtained by Al Jazeera on Tuesday, sets a 60-day limit on military action in Syria, with a possibility for a single 30-day extension subject to conditions. The deal reached by Senator Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the panel, and Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican, includes a provision banning any use of US armed forces on the ground. If the document is approved by the committee on Wednesday, it will then be sent to the full Senate for a vote after members return from their August recess on September 9. Earlier, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and Chuck Hagel, the defence secretary, gave evidence to the committee, where they were pressed on the issue of ground troops. Kerry initially said it was important to leave options open for using troops in a scenario where “Syria imploded” and stockpiles of chemical weapons needed to be secured from extremists. When some senators objected, however, he said the administration had “zero intention” of putting troops on the ground and would work with Congress to ensure ground troops were not permitted with this resolution. The draft requires Barack Obama to consult Congress and submit to the Senate and House of Representatives foreign relations panel a strategy for negotiating a political settlement to the Syria conflict, including a review of all forms of assistance to the rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad. On Tuesday, in a crucial show of support for Obama, House speaker and a Republican in Congress, John Boehner, said that he would back the president’s motion for strikes against Assad, and called on his party colleagues to do the same. His Republican colleague, house majority leader Eric Cantor, also supported Obama’s call. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Party’s leader in the house, said she did not believe Congress would reject Obama’s call, and that Assad’s action was “behaviour outside the circle of civilised human behaviour and we must respond’’.
Russia needs convincing proof
Speaking to journalists from Russia’s state Channel 1 television and Associated Press, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a number of decisive statements regarding the supposed use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict, which evoked a threat of a US-led strike on Syria, Russia Today reports.
“We believe that at the very least we should wait for the results of the UN inspection commission in Syria,” Putin said, adding that so far there is no information about what chemical agent exactly was used in the attack in Damascus’ suburbs and who did it. “I’ve already said I find it absolutely ridiculous that [Syrian] government’s armed forces, which today are actually on an offense mission and in some regions have already encircled the so-called rebels and are finishing them off, that the Syrian army has used prohibited chemical weapons,” Putin said.
“They know all too well that this could become a cause for sanctions and even for a military operation against them. That’s stupid and illogical.” “We proceed from the assumption that if anyone has information that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian regular army, then such proof must be presented to the UN Security Council and the UN inspectors,” Putin said, stressing that the proof must be “convincing” and not based on “rumors” or any sort of “eavesdropped intelligence data,” conversations etc.
Putin says he “does not exclude” that Russia may agree with a military operation if it is proved that the Syrian government is behind the attack, however he emphasized that in accordance with international law a decision of the UN Security Council is needed for that. “All other reasons and means that excuse using military force against an independent sovereign state are unacceptable and cannot be classified otherwise but as an aggression,” Putin noted. “We would be convinced by a detailed investigation and direct evidence of who exactly used chemical weapons and what substances were used. Then we’ll be ready to take decisive and serious action,” said the president.