Syrian President Bashar Assad's government said Friday the United States was lying about his nation’s use of chemical weapons.
The United States had publicly stated that conclusion for the first time on Thursday. Now the White House and Congress are mulling more aid for rebel fighters. President Obama has said on numerous occasions that any discovery of chemical warfare in Syria would constitute a “red line” for America involvement — but he didn’t clarify the scope of that involvement.
Sen. John McCain, who just returned from a visit with Syrian rebel fighters, has been pushing for the U.S. to provide direct military assistance to the opposition force for weeks now. And former President Bill Clinton just this week hopped aboard that bandwagon, characterizing Mr. Obama’s too-soft stance on Syria a foolhardy approach.
America’s recognition of chemical warfare use in Syria was met by denouncement from Mr. Assad’s government and by Russia, CNN reported.
The foreign ministry in Syria said Washington had released a “statement full of lies regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria,” CNN said. The nation’s state-run SANA media agency said the United States was up to “flagrant tricks to come up with any possible mean to justify the decision of President Barack Obama to arm the Syrian opposition.”
Russia media reported that President Vladimir Putin is rushing to Syria’s defense, suggesting the reports that conclude the Syrian government used chemical weapons against rebel fighters were incorrect, CNN reported. One aide to Mr. Putin said, CNN reported: “The Americans tried to show us information about the Assad’s regime using chemical weapons. But if I have to be direct, what we saw does not look convincing to us.”