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Syria rejects US, UK chemical claims

Written By Joseph Y. Musa on Sunday, April 28, 2013 | 4/28/2013 11:09:00 am


SYRIA has dismissed as a "barefaced lie" US and British claims it may have used chemical arms, with staunch ally Russia warning against using such fears to launch a military intervention.


The developments come with at least ten people killed in shelling on the town of Douma, northeast of the capital Damascus, and renewed fighting in other areas on Saturday.
"I want to confirm that statements by the US secretary of state and British government are inconsistent with reality and a barefaced lie," Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said in an interview with the Kremlin-funded Russia Today.
"I want to stress one more time that Syria would never use (chemical weapons) - not only because of its adherence to the international law and rules of leading war, but because of humanitarian and moral issues."
UN chief Ban Ki-Moon has called on Syria to approve a UN mission of inspectors to probe the alleged use of deadly chemicals in the spiralling conflict that erupted in March 2011.
But Zohbi told RT Damascus could not trust UN inspectors from Britain and the United States.
"We ... do not trust their qualifications," he said.
"Their aim is to juggle with facts."
But he said Syria would accept Russian inspectors.
Along with China, Russia has blocked several UN Security Council draft resolutions threatening sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
US President Barack Obama warned Syria on Friday that using chemical weapons would be a "game changer," after the US, Israel and Britain cited signs that Assad's regime attacked with the deadly agent sarin.
But Obama said Washington must act prudently, and establish exactly if, how and when such arms may have been used, promising a "vigorous" US and international probe into the latest reports.
Russia warned against using the reports for a military intervention.
"We must check the information immediately and in conformity with international criteria, and not use it to achieve other objectives," deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Saturday.
The Syrian opposition has stepped up pressure by urging the UN Security Council to take immediate steps, possibly even by imposing a no-fly zone on Syria.
And British Prime Minister David Cameron says the growing evidence Assad has turned chemical agents on his own people is "extremely serious".
The fighting in Syria, which the UN says has killed more than 70,000 people so far, showed no signs of abating on Saturday.
At least 10 people were killed in shelling on Douma, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Nearby, in Moadamiyet al-Sham, the group reported air raids and tank fire, as well as shelling of the Barzeh district of the capital, which has been under fire for three straight days.
Elsewhere, troops carried out air raids against parts of Damascus and Aleppo province and strikes were also reported in western Latakia and southern Daraa.


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