Russia: West has no proof Assad launched gas attack, it just wants to fight him
Russian FM Lavrov tells press conference any use of force in Syria without UN mandate would violate international law and be 'repetition of past mistakes.'
Russia warned Western powers on Monday against any military intervention in Syria, saying the use of force without a United Nations mandate would violate international law.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference that while the use of chemical weapons in Syria must be investigated, Western powers were jumping to accuse President Bashar Assad's regime without proof and out of personal dislike for the Syrian leader.
"[The] West is unable to present evidence of the involvement of the Syrian authorities in chemical attacks, but states that 'red line' in situation has been passed", said Lavrov, according to the Voice of Russia.
"You can't fight regime only because you don't personally like the dictator leading it and not fight some regimes where you like the dictator," Lavrov added.
Lavrov also said that Moscow had no plans to be drawn into a military conflict over the civil war in Syria and that Washington and its allies would be repeating "past mistakes" if they intervened in Syria.
"The use of force without the approval of the United Nations Security Council is a very grave violation of international law," Lavrov told a news conference at which he discussed accusations by rebel forces that Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons.
Russia is Syrian President Bashar Assad's key ally and one of its main arms suppliers. It is also a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, where it has protected Damascus from three consecutive resolutions that were intended to put pressure on him to end violence.
For more than two years, Moscow has demanded that any change of government in Syria must be carried out via a political process in which Assad must be part, and that no talks on Damascus' future can be predicated on Assad's exit from power.
Lavrov said last Wednesday's alleged chemical attack, which UN chemical weapons experts began investigating on Monday, was probably the work of rebels who wanted to derail plans by Washington and Moscow to hold talks on Syria's future.
You can't fight regime only because you don't personally like the dictator leading it - Russia's FM Lavrov http://t.co/pcS9OXVYXS— The Voice of Russia (@VoiceofRussia) August 26, 2013
Russian and U.S. officials are expected to meet on Wednesday to look at preparations for the conference.
Expressing concern about statements suggesting NATO had the right to intervene after the chemical attack without securing the approval of the United Nations, Lavrov said the unapproved use of force would "sharply aggravate" the situation.
He urged the West not to go down the "dangerous path" it had taken several times before and added: "We have no plans to go to war with anyone."
"If anybody thinks that bombing and destroying the Syrian military infrastructure, and leaving the battlefield for the opponents of the regime to win, would end everything - that is an illusion," Lavrov said.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said Russia and China would probably veto a Security Council vote to allow strikes against Syria. British Foreign Secretary William Hague, however, said it would still be possible to respond to a chemical weapon attack without the Security Council's backing.
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