Russia slams “Unacceptable” calls to use force in Syria
In a statement released on Friday by the country’s Foreign Ministry, it said Moscow is against further propaganda targeting the Syrian regime.
In addition, Russian Foreign Ministry said evidence was mounting that the attack was "clearly provocative in nature" and that footage posted online claiming to incriminate the Syrian regime had been posted before the chemical attack took place. It also accused the insurgents of "directly impeding an objective investigation" of the incident.
There were also calls by the Ministry earlier on Friday for Takfiri militants operating in Syria to “ensure safe access” for the UN investigation team to the area where chemical weapons were allegedly used.
The head of the so-called Syrian National Coalition, George Sabra, claimed on August 21 that 1,300 people were killed in a government chemical attack on militant strongholds in Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar.
However, the Syrian government vehemently dismissed the baseless claims, saying the new accusations were fabricated to distract the visiting team of the UN chemical weapons experts and to cover up militants’ losses.
Meanwhile, the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, reported on the same day that one million Syrian children now live as refugees abroad and another two million are displaced within the country as a result of the ongoing fighting.
According to the UN, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions of others displaced in Syria since March 2011.
US positioning forces for possible military action on Syria - Hagel
"The Defense Department has responsibility to provide the president with options for all contingencies," Hagel told reporters aboard his plane en route to Malaysia on Friday.
His remarks come after some American defense officials said earlier on Friday that Washington was considering military options against Syria over the allegations of the chemical weapons use by the Syrian government.
An unnamed defense official said the USS Mahan is set to stay in the region after it had finished its deployment and was due to head back to its home base in Norfolk, Virginia.
When asked if it was fair to report that the US had moved assets, Hagel said, "I don't think I said that. I said that we're always having to prepare - as we give the president options - prepare our assets and where they are and the capability of those assets to carry out the contingencies we give the president."
On Wednesday, Syria's foreign-backed opposition claimed that around 1,300 people were killed in a government chemical attack on militant strongholds. The Syrian government denied the allegations.
A team sent by the United Nations is set to investigate the latest claim of chemical weapons use outside Damascus.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday asked Syria to allow UN inspectors to investigate "without delay" the alleged chemical attack.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama said the United States cannot attack Syria without a UN mandate for the allegations.
"If the US goes in and attacks another country without a UN mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it. Do we have the coalition to make it work? And, you know, those are considerations that we have to take into account," he said in an interview with CNN on Friday.