DAMASCUS, Syria — Evidence of alleged chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime presented to Moscow by the U.S. and its allies is “absolutely unconvincing,” Russia’s foreign minister said today, as the Obama administration lobbied Congress to support a punitive military strike against Syria.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said “there was nothing specific there, no geographic coordinates, no names, no proof that the tests were carried out by the professionals.” He did not describe the tests further.
President Barack Obama initially seemed poised to launch military action without asking Congress, but over the weekend changed his mind, a decision that delays any strike until after Congress returns from summer recess next week.
At issue in the escalating diplomatic confrontation between the U.S. and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad are alleged chemical weapons attacks on rebel-held areas in western and eastern suburbs of the Syrian capital of Damascus on Aug. 21.
The U.S. said it has proof that the Assad regime is behind attacks that Washington claims killed at least 1,429 people, including more than 400 children. Syrian officials have denied the allegations, blaming rebel fighters.
Lavrov brushed aside Western evidence of an alleged Syrian regime role. Russia, along with China and Iran, has staunchly backed Assad throughout the conflict.
“What our American, British and French partners showed us in the past and have showed just recently is absolutely unconvincing,” Lavrov said.