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Biden readies casus belli for war, saying Syria used chemical weapons

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US Vice President Joe Biden says there is no doubt that the Syrian government is responsible for the use of chemical weapons near Damascus, appearing to prepare the ground for a US military offensive against the Arab country. "There's no doubt who is responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria: the Syrian regime," Biden said in the US city of Houston on Tuesday. In the last few days, US officials have repeatedly referred to "surgical strikes" on Syrian military installations while discussing US military options for Syria. The call for military action against Syria intensified after foreign-backed opposition forces accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of launching a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus last week. On August 21, Syria's opposition claimed that around 1,300 people were killed in the attack in the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar. But the Syrian Army strongly rejected any role in the alleged chemical attack, saying the accusations were fabricated to distract a visiting team of the UN chemical weapons experts and to cover up militants' losses. During a news conference on Tuesday in Damascus, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem challenged the United States and its allies to present evidence that the government had used chemical weapons. "We are hearing war drums around us. If they want to launch an attack against Syria, I think using the excuse of chemical weapons is not true at all. I challenge them to show what proof they have," Muallem said. He also stated that any military action against Syria would serve the interests of Israel and al-Qaeda-linked militants fighting against the Syrian government. "The war effort led by the United States and their allies will serve the interests of Israel and secondly al-Nusra Front," the Syrian foreign minister noted. Meanwhile, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that President Barack Obama was still undecided about launching a military strike, saying that Washington was not considering "boots on the ground" in Syria. However, France and Israel, among other opponents of the Syrian government, are pushing for a US offensive against Syria. Russia urged the West not to jump to conclusions on the chemical weapons attack, and await the findings of the UN inspection team that on Monday examined the area in the Damascus suburbs. All countries should wait for the results of the probe and "show prudence and avoid tragic mistakes" by jumping to conclusions about the incident, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Sunday. "Our American and European partners must understand what catastrophic consequences this kind of politics would have for the region, for the Arab and Islamic world as a whole," Lukashevich said, advising the West to avoid military action against Syria.



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