Sat Apr 27, 2013 1:6PM
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (file photo)

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (file photo)

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov says claims about use of chemical weapons in Syria should not be used as pretext for military intervention in the country. "We must know the truth and have proof and not rely on information reported in the media which is not supported by facts," Bogdanov said on Saturday. He added that the claims should be dealt with “in conformity with international criteria” and should not not used to “achieve other objectives. It must not be a pretext for an intervention in Syria.” "We have the past experience of another violent intervention in Iraqi affairs under the pretext of the presence of nuclear weapons, and it turned out in the end that there was nothing," the Russian official said. The remarks by the Russian official come two days after US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel claimed that the American intelligence community had made an assessment “with varying degrees of confidence” that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons on a small scale. On Friday, an unnamed Syrian official denied the accusations by saying that Damascus was capable of reaching any area of Syria by relaying on traditional weapons and that it would not use chemical arms "even if it had them." Syria has been gripped by a deadly unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of government security forces and army personnel, have been killed in the violence. Damascus says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals. The Syrian government says the West and its regional allies including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are supporting the militants. Several international human rights organizations have accused the militants operating in Syria of committing war crimes. SZH/SS
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