Putin: No Evidence of Chemical Attack in Syria
Russia is continuing to defend its close ally, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
On Monday, reported Russia Today (RT), President Vladimir Putin told British Prime Minister David Cameron that Russia has no evidence of a chemical weapons attack having taken place in Syria or who is responsible.
The two leaders held an urgent phone call on Monday afternoon regarding the Syrian crisis in the wake of a sniper attack on UN chemical inspectors outside Damascus.
“President Putin said that they did not have evidence of whether a chemical weapons attack had taken place or who was responsible,” a British government spokesperson was quoted by RT as having said after the call.
Cameron stated that he was sure the alleged attack was instigated by Assad’s government forces, saying that he believed the opposition did not have the capacity to carry out such a strike.
“The regime had also prevented UN access in the immediate aftermath, suggesting they had something to hide,” he told Putin.
Both national leaders reaffirmed the stance that all G8 attendees took in June, “No one should use chemical weapons and any use would merit a serious response from the international community.”
The UN mission stated on Monday that it was still possible for the team of experts to gather necessary evidence despite the time elapsed since the alleged attack.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said on Sunday that evidence indicating that a chemical attack took place could have already been destroyed ahead of a visit to the site by the inspectors.
"We have to be realistic now about what the UN team can achieve," he said. "The fact is that much of the evidence could have been destroyed by that artillery bombardment. Other evidence could have degraded over the last few days and other evidence could have been tampered with.”
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.
Britain has reportedly been working closely with the United States in preparing a response to the alleged chemical attack.
Cameron is believed to have abandoned hope of securing any further meaningful response from the UN because of the opposition from Russia, which has already vetoed several Security Council resolutions condemning the Assad regime, including one from last week after the chemical attack.