Primed to explode: U.S. warships move closer to Syria- Russia warns U.S. of consequences of intervention

Sunday, August 25, 2013
By Paul Martin
August 26, 2013

SYRIA – Russia issued a stark warning today against renewed calls for foreign military intervention in Syria after an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus last week. In a pair of statements, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman drew comparisons between the current situation in Syria and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and urged countries “not to repeat the mistakes of the past.” Responding directly to comments by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel about military contingency planning, Alexander Lukashevich said such remarks were “alarming.” Lukashevich reiterated Russia’s position that evidence the Syrian military was responsible for the suspected chemical attack was pre-fabricated in order to frame the government. He said statements by the United States, France, and Britain that blame government forces are “completely ignoring many facts pointing to the fact that this action as a provocation of the irreconcilable opposition.”

The White House has spent much of the weekend deliberating how to proceed, now that, as a senior administration official told ABC News, it has determined there is “very little doubt” that the Assad regime is responsible for the alleged chemical attack. “Based on the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, witness accounts, and other facts, there is very little doubt at this point that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in this incident,” the official said. “We are continuing to assess the facts so the president can make an informed decision about how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons.” White House officials also point out the attack was on rebel-held territory and apparently done using rockets that the rebels do not possess. The president has ordered his national security team to draw up possible strike options on Syria, but there is a divide in the White House on how forcefully to respond, although another official told ABC News if there is a strike, it must be “timely” — done soon enough to prevent another chemical attack. However, the White House does not want to act alone. U.S. officials are back channeling through the United Nations to see if Russia could be convinced to agree to a resolution. If there is no UN authorization, the United States would lead any possible strike, but, a senior official told ABC News “we do not want to do anything on our own.” U.S. allies must commit both “resources” and “political will” the official said. –ABC News

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