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Lavrov Rejects Kerry’s Assessment of Syria Situation

In a phone conversation Tuesday, Russia’s foreign minister rejected a claim made by his US counterpart that Syria's government was to blame for the use of chemical weapons against its own civilians.

MOSCOW, August 27 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s top diplomat disagreed with his US counterpart in a phone conversation about the situation in Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported Tuesday.

In the conversation, requested by the United States, US Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Syria’s government was to blame for the use of chemical weapons in that country, but Lavrov rejected that viewpoint, the ministry said in a statement.

“Lavrov … rejected such an assessment and cited relevant arguments on the Russian side,” the statement said.

Western powers are considering armed intervention in the two-year civil war in Syria after hundreds of people were killed last week in the capital, Damascus, in an apparent nerve gas attack that the opposition claimed was performed by government forces.

The Syrian government quickly denied the allegations and said it had evidence of rebel groups using chemical weapons. America’s ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, wrote on Facebook on Monday that “the Syrian regime has chemical weapons. The opposition does not.”

The unrest in Syria began in March 2011 and later escalated into a civil war. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far, according to United Nations estimates.

The United Nations Security Council has so far not authorized any military intervention in the Syrian crisis. Moscow, along with Beijing, has previously vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions condemning Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

Russia has been Syria's most important ally during the civil war. Moscow has sent to Damascus some weapons that it said were being supplied under previously agreed deals.

Russia harshly criticized the United States on Tuesday for allegedly using “unproven excuses” to justify military action in Syria and said Moscow was “seriously disappointed” by Washington’s decision to put off a bilateral meeting to discuss the crisis.


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