Russia warns US about the consequences of attacking Syria in order to punish it for using chemical weapons. The US and is allies are drafting plans for an attack, apparently giving little heed to Russia's warning.
Beirut and Moscow
U.S. allies were drafting plans for air strikes and other military action against Syria on Tuesday, as President Bashar al-Assad's enemies vowed to punish a poison gas attack that Washington called a "moral obscenity".
"We have no plans to go to war [over this], but we hope that others will think carefully about their own long-term interests," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.
Although Mr. Lavrov said nothing new, there was a discernibly fresh tone of diplomatic desperation that suggests Moscow has lost hope that a US-led military intervention in Syria can be forestalled, and is now preparing for a changed world in which there will no longer be even a semblance of US-Russian cooperation on Middle Eastern issues like the jointly brokered Geneva peace conference to bring together both sides in the Syrian conflict, reports The Christian Science Monitor.
Facing Russian and Chinese disapproval that will complicate hopes for a united front backed by international law, and keen to win over wary voters at home, Western leaders seem in no rush to pull the trigger. British Prime Minister David Cameron called parliament back from recess for a session on Syria on Thursday.
U.N. experts trying to establish what killed hundreds of civilians in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus last Wednesday were finally able to cross the frontline on Monday to see survivors - despite being shot at in government-held territory. But they put off a second visit until Wednesday.
However, U.S. officials said President Barack Obama already had little doubt Assad's forces were to blame. Turkey, Syria's neighbour and part of the U.S.-led NATO military pact, called it a "crime against humanity" that demanded international reaction.
The Syrian government, which denies using gas, said it would press on with its offensive against rebels around the capital. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said U.S. strikes would help al Qaeda allies but called Western leaders "delusional" if they hoped to aid the rebels to create a balance of power in Syria.
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