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4 September 2013 Last updated at 04:49 ET
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Russia's President Putin warns US over Syria action • Latest
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned America and its allies against taking one-sided action in Syria. He said any military strikes without UN approval would be "an aggression". US President Barack Obama has called for punitive action in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack. Mr Putin said Russia did not rule out supporting a UN Security Council resolution authorising force, if it was proved "beyond doubt" that the Syrian government used chemical weapons. On Tuesday evening, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee agreed on a draft resolution backing the use of US military force. Continue reading the main story
Analysis Daniel Sandford BBC News, Moscow President Vladimir Putin's position on any military action against Syria was in the most part very robust. He said any use of force without a United Nations Security Council resolution would be "an aggression." He went on to say that although Russia has suspended supplies of the sophisticated S-300 air defence missiles, he would consider supplying S-300s to other regions in the event of an American attack. That could
be seen as a veiled threat to supply S-300s to Iran. But President Putin did leave open the slight chance of a Russian change of position - something he has not done before. He said he did not "exclude" the possibility of Russia supporting a UN Security Council resolution authorising force, if it was proved "beyond doubt" that President Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. Of course that is a high bar, but it has given him a little wriggle room. The measure, to be voted on next week, sets a time limit of 60 days on any operation. According to the draft resolution, the operation would be restricted to a "limited and tailored use of the United States Armed Forces against Syria", and ban the use of any ground forces. The US has put the death toll from the alleged chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus on 21 August at 1,429, though other countries and organisations have given lower figures. Convincing evidence Mr Putin was speaking ahead of the G20 summit in St Petersburg, which opens on Thursday and is supposed to concentrate on the global economy, but now looks likely to be dominated by the Syrian crisis. In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press and Russia's state Channel 1 television, Mr Putin said it was "ludicrous'' that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Russia, would use chemical weapons at a time when it was gaining ground against the rebels. "If there is evidence that chemical weapons were used, and by the regular army... then this evidence must be presented to the UN Security Council. And it must be convincing," Mr Putin said. But he added that Russia would "be ready to act in the most decisive and serious way" if there was clear proof of what weapons were used and who used them. The BBC's Daniel Sandford in Moscow said that while that, of course, is a high bar, it has at least given him a little wriggle room.
'Not the time to be spectators' Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote If the president is not unhappy with this first motion, some who want deeper and more serious involvement, aimed at toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, may be” End Quote Mark Mardell North America editor • Read more from Mark The US Congress is expected to vote next week on whether to back President Obama's push for military strikes in Syria. Ahead of next week's vote in Congress on whether to back military strikes in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday to promote the Obama administration's case. He said there was evidence "beyond any reasonable doubt" that the forces of President Bashar al-Assad regime prepared for a chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. He told the senators that the president was not asking America to go to war. "He is asking only for the power to make clear, to make certain, that the United States means what we say." "This is not the time for armchair isolationism," Mr Kerry added . "This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter." Continue reading the main story
Document PDF download Document Link URL[151KB] Most computers will open PDF documents automatically, but you may need Adobe Reader • Download the reader here US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and the top US military officer, Gen Martin Dempsey, also appeared before the Senate panel. Mr Hagel said that "the word of the United States must mean something". The Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, also endorsed President Obama's call for military action.
So too did Henry Kissinger, who was the US Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977 and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr Kissinger told the BBC that doing nothing would be "catastrophic", and "would show a degree of dysfunction in our political system that would be very unfortunate". But the BBC's Jane O'Brien, in Washington, says Mr Obama still faces a tough task winning the support of the American people. The latest opinion poll shows public opposition to involvement in the Syrian conflict is growing, with six out of 10 Americans against missile strikes. Refugee crisis Continue reading the main story
Analysis Jonathan Marcus BBC diplomatic correspondent Some elements of the Syrian chemical weapons complex may be buried underground but large parts of it can easily be seen on satellite images. Much of it is reasonably close to populated areas - and this is the problem. Attacking such sites with regular explosive bombs might well wreak considerable damage but it could also open up chemical weapons stocks to the air, disperse them over a large area, and potentially cause large numbers of civilian casualties â€˘ Can US hit Syria's chemical weapons? France has strongly backed the US plan for military action, and the French parliament is due to debate the issue on Wednesday. President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday: "When a chemical massacre takes place, when the world is informed of it, when the evidence is delivered, when the guilty parties are known, then there must be an answer." UK Prime Minister David Cameron had also backed Mr Obama, but the British parliament rejected a resolution on military action. More than 100,000 people are thought to have died since the uprising against President Assad began in March 2011. The UN refugee agency says more than two million Syrians were now registered as refugees, and a further 4.25 million have been displaced within Syria. The UN says this is the worst refugee crisis for 20 years, with numbers not seen since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
The foreign ministers of four of Syria's neighbours - Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq - are meeting at the United Nations in Geneva on Wednesday to discuss the issue. The ministers hope to persuade other richer countries to offer more support.
More on This Story Syria conflict Features and analysis
'Chemical attacks': What we know
A look at what is known so far about suspected chemical attacks on 21 August, according to witnesses, footage and intelligence reports.
US readers react
France backs US
Damascus on edge
Iran: Syria ally
Shadow of Iraq
Life goes on: Ordinary Syrians
In quotes: Politicians on Syria vote
Incendiary bomb attack on school Watch
Video and audio
BBC team inside Syria witnesses the aftermath of an incendiary bomb dropped on a school playground •
BBC latest from 'anxious' Damascus Watch
What Syrians think about intervention Listen
Guide to conflict
Guide to how anti-government protests in Syria led to a bloody internal conflict in which tens of thousands have lost their lives.
Mapping the conflict
Zaatari refugee camp
President's inner circle
BBC Arabic website
Revolution 2011 on Facebook
Syrian state news agency
Human Rights Observatory (Arabic)
Around the web
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rate this 0 Comment number 381. Ketchc 8 Minutes ago Right, this is simple. The West need to use weapons to satisfy the demands of the military industrial complex, without the products of these huge companies being used, they become worthless. We are also running out of enemies to fight around the world so what better way to create the enemies of the future than to install hard line Islamic governments who we can eventually call terrorists and bomb
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Comment number 380. Paul Just now 348.likeitis The USA hosts and underpins the UN and the UN is our hope for international action on atrocities. -You are the perfect example of a human being having been suckered in by the UK and US governmental rhetoric channeled through the Western media. You believe that our governments cannot conspire and if such evidence comes to light then it's a Conspiracy Theory. Truly dangerous!
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rate this 0 Comment number 379. noquarter Just now on the other hand though, the UK foreign aid bill is going to increase which means the average tax payer will be paying more money, all our money will be loaded on a boat and sent to Syria. Cameron should realize charity begins at home and we need the investment! Meanwhile nearby countries like Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan can deal with aiding the civilians so the aid package isnt needed.
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Comment number 378. justaman Just now USA is just deflending its interest and not the interest of syrian people, USA war will bring just more chaos and blooedshed to the region but USA does not see that, see just her interest keeping the dominance over the resources in the region. it is a shame for the humaninty to be still acting in favour of dominance rather in favour of justice and peace!!!!
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rate this 0 Comment number 377. Redfootball 1 Minute ago Even if cast iron proof that Assad was behind these attacks were found Id still be against any retaliatory action. why? Because more innocents will lose lives/Syria's infrastructure will be destroyed/perpetrators will not be brought to book/region destabilised/more jihaddists let loose.
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