11 April, 2017

US plans to bomb Syria and blame Assad, Vladimir Putin claims

Russia has information about a planned US air strike on Damascus involving chemical weapons that would be blamed on Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in an attempt to frame him, Vladimir Putin has claimed.
The Russian President made reference to strikes on suburbs in the south of the Syrian capital which he suggested would be the targets of the supposed US raids.  
He also said the US strike on a Syrian airbase last week reminded him of claims made about weapons of mass destruction claims that were used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The provocative comments come as the Russian leader warned of the worst relations between Moscow and Washington since the end of the Cold War. 
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday - hours before US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due to arrive in Moscow - Mr Putin said he would appeal to the UN to investigate the recent alleged chemical attack in Syria.
"We have information from different sources that these provocations - I cannot call them otherwise - are being prepared in other regions of Syria, including in the southern suburbs of Damascus where there are plans to throw some substance and accuse the official Syrian authorities," Mr Putin said after holding talks with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella.
He added that some countries had voiced their support for the Us air strike on Syria in order to build closer relations with the new Trump administration.
On the UN investigation, Mr Putin said: “We plan to turn to the United Nations bodies in The Hague and call on the global community to thoroughly investigate into this incident and make balanced decisions based on the investigation’s outcome.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is to meet Mr Tillerson on Wednesday. Earlier reports suggested Mr Putin would also meet the US diplomat, something Moscow has not commented on.
Russia has been a long-time supporter of Mr Assad's government, which was accused of launching a chemical weapons attack on Idlib province. 
That incident prompted Donald Trump to launch a cruise missile strike from two warships based in the Mediterranean targeted at an air base said to have been the base from which the original chemical attack was launched.
Meanwhile, Russia's General Staff has said the Syrian government is willing to let international experts examine its military base for signs of chemical weapons.
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