Russia picks holes in West’s charge on chemical attack

As war rhetoric escalates, Syria’s President, Bashar Al-Assad has mounted a robust counterattack — rejecting that his forces used chemical weapons and warning that the U.S. will suffer a historic defeat in case it launches a military attack.

In an interview with the Russian daily Izvestia published on Monday, Mr. Assad foresaw Washington’s military intervention in Syria as a defeat similar to Vietnam.

“Failure awaits the United States as in all previous wars it has unleashed, starting with Vietnam and up to the present day,” said Mr. Assad.

He also said western allegations about the use of the chemical weapons, cited as a basis for a humanitarian military intervention, were politically motivated. “They [western powers] claim that the area in question is under the control of the rebels and that the Syrian Army used chemical weapons. In fact, the area is in contiguity with the Syrian Army positions, so how is it possible that any country would use chemical weapons, or any weapons of mass destruction, in an area where its own forces are located; this is preposterous! These accusations are completely politicised and come on the back of the advances made by the Syrian Army against the terrorists.”

The Syrian government has maintained that the militants had mounted a “false flag” operation by using chemical weapons, with the deliberate intention of blaming it on the government.

Reinforcing the Syrian argument, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov picked deep holes in the western argument for the use of military force, pointing out that the accusations against the Syrian regime were completely unsubstantiated. “Officials in Washington, London and Paris say they have incontrovertible evidence that the Syrian government is behind the chemical attack in Damascus, but they have not yet presented this evidence. Yet, they keep saying that the ‘red line’ has been crossed,” asserted Mr. Lavrov.

Working in close coordination with Russia against an attack on Syria, China has warned that diplomats should avoid jumping to conclusions.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday that a political resolution through proposed talks in Geneva was the only way to resolve the crisis. After the fall in Libya of former leader Muammar Qadhafi , which the two see as an illustration of “regime change”, Moscow and Beijing have vetoed western-backed anti-Assad resolutions in the U.N. Security Council.

In his riposte, the Syrian President said Damascus was a victim of subversive plots hatched by Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

He pointed out that for the first two years, since the conflict has begun, “Qatar financed while Turkey provided logistical support by training terrorists and streaming them into Syria”. But recently, “Saudi Arabia has replaced Qatar in the funding role”. Mr. Assad also drew attention to complicity between extremist militants and Israel. He said that at the border, Israel attacks Syrian forces when they are in hot pursuit of these groups. “It is Israel who has publically declared its cooperation with these terrorists and treated them in Israeli hospitals”.

Mr. Assad expressed his apprehensions that the data procured by the U.N. from the alleged site of the chemical attack maybe deliberately misinterpreted to accuse Syria, and provide justification for promoting western interests. “We are all aware that instead of being interpreted in an objective manner, these results could easily be interpreted according to the requirements and agendas of certain major countries. Certainly, we expect Russia to block any interpretation that aims to serve American and western policies.”

With enormous stakes riding on its findings, the U.N. investigation team that is in Syria was drawn into the line of fire on Monday as it commenced its work. The U.N. says that unidentified snipers opened fire on a convoy of its experts investigating suspected chemical weapons attacks in Syria’s capital. Syria blamed the opposition “terrorists” for the attack.

However, the U.N. team later resumed its mission, and entered the al-Ghouta region in the outskirts of the capital. The investigators were expected to take soil, blood, and urine and tissue samples for laboratory testing from five locations in the outskirts of Damascus, where hundreds of people were reportedly killed during a chemical attack last week.

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