Syria: Kerry lying about gas attack, regime will press on with military efforts
Syrian government says U.S. secretary of state 'fabricated' evidence that Assad was behind chemical weapons attack; Russia warns strike on Syria would have 'catastrophic' implications for Mideast.
Syria has accused U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry of lying by claiming there is "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical weapons attack in Syria likely carried out by the regime.
Syria's foreign minister, meanwhile, stressed that international military intervention in his country will not deter the government's actions against rebels.
"The (government's) military effort will not stop around Damascus. If the purpose is to limit the victories of our armed forces, they will not be successful," Walid Moallem told a news conference.
Moallem said that the second day of a UN inspection team's work had been postponed to Wednesday due to disagreements among the rebels over security arrangements.
He also rejected accusations by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, saying that President Bashar Assad's government was not obstructing the work of the UN team.
A statement on the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency says Kerry's insistence on "jumping over" the work of UN experts in Syria shows that the U.S. has deliberate intentions to exploit events.
Kerry said Monday there is "undeniable" evidence of a chemical weapons attack, with intelligence strongly pointing to President Bashar Assad's government as being responsible.
SANA in the statement Tuesday said Kerry has "fabricated" evidence that the Syrian regime was to blame for the August 21 outside Damascus, which activists say killed hundreds of people.
As President Barack Obama deliberated on how to respond to the purported use of deadly gases, varied responses streamed in from the international community.
The British government said its military is drawing up contingency plans for a possible military strike on Syria.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday that chemical weapons attacks in Syria were "absolutely abhorrent," necessitating action from the international community with Britain considering a "proportionate response."
Cameron cut short his holiday on Monday to return to London and announced that he will recall parliament early to discuss how to respond to the latest events in Syria.
He is to chair a meeting of Britain's National Security Council on Wednesday to discuss the matter and is expected to keep talking to other world leaders in the meantime to make sure any response is coordinated.
"Any decision taken will be taken under a strict international framework," a spokesman for Cameron told reporters.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the chemical weapons assault was a "crime against humanity" and was a test for the international community.
"This is a crime against humanity and a crime against humanity should not go unanswered, what needs to be done must be done. Today, it is clear the international community is faced with a test," Davutoglu told reporters.
Strike won't deter Syria
Russia, meanwhile, reiterated its opposition to intervention in Syria.
“Attempts to bypass the Security Council, once again to create artificial groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa,” a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.
“We are calling on our American partners and all members of the world community to demonstrate prudence (and) strict observance of international law, especially the fundamental principles of the UN Charter,” said Alexander Lukashevich, a ministry spokesman.
CBS News reported on Monday that Obama's national security team is compiling a report detailing legal justifications required to launch a strike on Syria without the backing of the United Nations Security Council, with emphasis on alleged violation of the Geneva Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Iran, too, warned against foreign military response, saying the resulting conflict would have disastrous implications for the Middle East.
Iran, which is supporting Assad against rebels seeking to overthrow him, has said rebels were behind the suspected attack that the West was using it as a pretext to intervene in Syria.
"We want to strongly warn against any military attack in Syria. There will definitely be perilous consequences for the region," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi told a news conference. "These complications and consequences will not be restricted to Syria. It will engulf the whole region."
Military summit in Amman
U.S. General Martin Dempsey and other allied military leaders held a summit in the Jordanian capital Amman this week to discuss possible responses. While The Guardian cited the British Defense Ministry as saying that no decision has been made, DPA reported that the army chiefs reached a "consensus" paving the way for limited missile strikes on Syria as early as this week.
"It was decided that should the international community be forced to act in Syria, the most responsible and sustainable response would be limited missile strikes," said a Jordanian military official close to the proceedings who was not authorized to speak to the press.
The army chiefs from 10 nations refused to set a timeline for the proposed strikes, but participants agreed to prepare for military action as early as "this week."
Any military action must first be approved by national leaders.
The emergency summit was attended by top military brass from the U.S., Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan.