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Russia to U.S.: Don't Repeat Your Past Mistakes in Syria

The U.S. rhetoric over the alleged chemical attack in Damascus reminds one of its behavior in Iraq, says Moscow.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/26/2013, 6:42 AM

Victim in Syria
Victim in Syria
Reuters

Russia warned the United States on Sunday not to repeat in Syria its past mistakes in Iraq, and warned Washington not to breach international law, Russia Today (RT) reports.

Russia warned that the alleged chemical attack in Damascus last week, which rebels claimed killed more than 1,000 people, could have been a staged “provocation” by the Syrian opposition forces.

Moscow also said that U.S. rhetoric recalled the allegations preceding the invasion of Iraq.

“All of this makes one recall the events that happened 10 years ago, when, using false information about Iraqis having weapons of mass destructions, the U.S. bypassed the United Nations and started a scheme whose consequences are well known to everyone,” the Russian Foreign ministry said in a statement quoted by RT.

“Once again we call not to repeat past mistakes, not to allow actions that contradict international law,” the ministry said.

On Sunday, Syria gave the “green light” for UN experts to visit the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb. The UN said its chemical weapons experts will start probing the site in the suburb of Ghouta as early as Monday.

Russia welcomed the move but has called on all the sides, “trying to influence the results of the investigation in advance,” not to “make tragic mistakes.”

On Friday it was reported that a preliminary assessment made by U.S. and allied intelligence agencies has concluded that chemical weapons were indeed used by Syrian forces in the attack near Damascus.

It is believed the attack was carried out with high-level approval from the government of President Bashar Al-Assad.

Pressure has been piling up on the West, particularly on U.S. President Barack Obama, to respond to the attack. Obama said last year that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a "red line" and force a tough U.S. response, but so far has failed to deliver such a response other than deciding to directly arm selected Syrian rebel groups without publicly specifying the extent of the support.

The West is becoming frustrated with the inability of the UN Security Council to take action in Syria. This is largely because of Russia, Assad’s closest ally which has already vetoed several Security Council resolutions condemning the Assad regime, including one from last week after the chemical attack.