Russia Warns West Against Syria Intervention
Published: August 28, 2013 (Issue # 1775)
The Syrian opposition on Monday ruled out any chance of peace talks next month as President Vladimir Putin and UK Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the crisis over the phone and Russia warned the West against military intervention.
The news of the opposition’s refusal to participate in peace talks came after a UN inspection team came under fire from snipers as they approached the site of an alleged chemical attack that killed more than 1,000 people in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta.
The purported chemical attack occurred in the early morning on Aug. 21, killing civilian men, women and children as they slept.
Calls for military intervention intensified in the immediate aftermath of the attack, which activists said was carried out by authorities and Russia says was done by Syrian rebels to lure the West into war and derail peace talks.
But even as the UN team began its work Monday — after coming under fire by unidentified snipers, according to The Associated Press — several Western nations have said Syria’s granting of access to the site of the attack was too little, too late.
European countries have called for an immediate reaction, with both the UK and Turkey saying a military intervention could take place without the authority of the UN Security Council, since Russia and China would likely veto the move.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the statement “astonishing” and said intervention would be a “grave violation of international law,” also voicing disapproval of recent agreements reached at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland that authorized the UN Security Council to make a decision on what actions should be taken in case of a chemical attack in Syria.
If the deaths in Eastern Ghouta are found to have been caused by a chemical attack, it would be the world’s most lethal chemical attack since the 1980s. It is not clear, however, how long the UN team’s investigation will take.
Putin’s conversation with Cameron on Monday, the details of which are unclear, was initiated by the British side.
Russia has said the attack was likely a provocation by Syrian rebels who wanted Western nations to intervene in order to foil plans for a peace conference in Geneva next month. The peace conference has now been postponed for an indefinite amount of time, with rebels saying they want an “unconditional surrender” from the current regime before they’ll sit down to talk.
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