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Syrians play down military intervention after chemical weapons' talks


09:03, April 29, 2013

DAMASCUS, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Despite mounting talks of possible military intervention in Syria following recent U.S. statements about Syria's use of chemical weapons, most Syrians downplayed their significance and considered them as no more than new pressure cards on the Syrian administration.

"I don't think it's a serious threat... They simply want to raise the ceiling of bargaining, especially as the government has showed over more than two years a defiant attitude and didn't bow to their pressures," said Alya, 39-year-old housewife.

U.S. President Barack Obama has warned Syria that using chemical weapons would be a "game changer," as he faces rising pressure at home and abroad to intervene in the country's bloody civil war.

But speaking Friday, a day after U.S. officials said they suspected the use of the deadly agent sarin in small-scale attacks in Syria, Obama warned that Washington must act prudently, and establish exactly if, how and when such arms were used.

Obama, who had previously told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that the use of chemical weapons would cross a "red line," promised a "vigorous" U.S. and international probe into the latest reports.

Syria has denied the accusation, and Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zouebi told Russian television Saturday that the U.S. and British accusations are a "barefaced lie."

Syria's permanent representative to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari, said that imposing a no-fly zone cannot be done without a unanimous resolution by the UN Security Council.

His comments came in the context of a response to the words of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about the imposition of no-fly zone in the event of proven use of chemical weapons.

Jaafari said in an interview with a Lebanese TV channel that raising the issue of chemical weapons in Syria is one of the pressures exerted on the Syrian people and the government alike for obtaining political concessions.

A senior U.S. senator said on Sunday that a group of nations should get troops ready to invade Syria in order to secure possible stocks of chemical weapons.

Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said that an international force must "be ready operationally" to go in and prevent Islamic fighters involved in Syria's civil war from getting their hands on chemical weapons.

Syrians have growing confidence that the crisis in the country would be solved only through political channels owing to Russia and Iran's firm backing of the government. They are fully convinced that the United States couldn't act without Russia's approval as any military intervention requires a unanimous UN resolution.

"Has he (Obama) got finally Russia's assurances that it will not veto once again a UN resolution on Syria?" said Munir, an engineer.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly said that he would defend the Syrian government even if the fighting moves to Moscow's streets and pledged that he will not allow the Libyan scenario to be repeated in Syria.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Saturday that claims that chemical weapons have been used in Syria should not become a pretext for a foreign military intervention in the country.

"If there is serious evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, it should be presented immediately and not concealed," said Bogdanov, Putin's Middle East envoy, during a visit to Beirut.

"If they are able to intervene in Syria, they would have done that a long time ago," Munir said. "The Americans are aware that Syria, with the support of its allies, would respond and the first target would be Israel, America's main ally in the region."

The chemical weapons' frenzy flared last month when Syria filed a complaint to the UN asking the international body to send a technical team to investigate the rebels' use of chemical weapons in northern Syria.

Last December, Syria warned that rebels could use chemical weapons in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad's forces, but insisted the regime will never unleash such arms on its own people.

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