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- Syrian Minister Rejects Chemical Attack Reports
- Lavrov, Kerry Call for Unbiased Probe into Alleged Syria Attack
BERLIN, August 26 (RIA Novosti) – Germany has called on the international community to act if the allegation that the Syrian government used poison gas against its civilians proves to be true.
“If the use [of the weapons] is confirmed, the international community must act. Then Germany will be among those who consider consequences to be appropriate,” Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement published on the German Foreign Ministry’s website in German on Monday.
The minister said Germany is working in close contact with the UN and its allies.
The Syrian opposition has accused the government of killing hundreds of people in a large-scale nerve gas attack outside Damascus on August 21, with death toll estimates varying from 100 to more than 1,000 people. The Syrian government promptly denied the reports as baseless and showed on state TV what it said was evidence of chemical weapons stocks held by rebel forces.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said Monday that London is considering a response to the suspected chemical attack in Syria “without the UN’s unanimous backing,” the BBC reported.
A senior Russian lawmaker, Alexei Pushkov, said Monday the US and UK “need only a guilty verdict” for embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad. “Any other [verdict] will be rejected,” Pushkov, head of the international committee of the Russian parliament’s lower house, said on Twitter.
“Washington and London have declared Assad guilty even before the UN experts have come to any conclusions,” Pushkov said.
The Syrian government agreed Sunday to allow UN experts to visit the site of the alleged poison gas attack, which is believed to be the world’s worst chemical attack in 25 years.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sunday that President Barack Obama had asked the US military to “prepare for all contingencies” following the alleged gas attack, US media reported. Four destroyers armed with cruise missiles are in the area, US defense officials told Fox News on the weekend.
The unrest in Syria began in March 2011 and later escalated into a civil war. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far, according to the UN.
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Iran has been a central Russian ally in the Middle East, despite considerable tensions between the two. But by renewing dialogue with the West, the new Iranian leadership has chosen another direction. The shifting terrain in the region creates new strategic, political and economic challenges for Russia.