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Putin says “groundless’’ accusations over Syria “unacceptable’’

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that “groundless’’ accusations over a Syrian chemical attack are “unacceptable’’ amid Western efforts to pressure Damascus with a new United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution.

Putin made the remarks during a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a Kremlin statement.

Media reports said that about 70 people were killed with 200 others wounded on Tuesday in a toxic gas attack by Syrian warplanes on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in the country’s northwestern province of Idlib.

But the Russian Defence Ministry on Wednesday said that the deadly gas contamination was caused by the explosion of chemical weapons produced and stored by the rebels, after Syrian aircraft bombed the area.

Damascus has repeatedly denied possession of any chemical weapons.

During Thursday’s conversation, Putin called the gas contamination “an incident,” saying “it is unacceptable to make groundless accusations against any party until a thorough and objective international investigation has been conducted.”

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused the Syrian Government of going “beyond a red line” by attacking civilians with toxic gas.

Western countries are trying to pass a UNSC resolution drafted by the U.S, Britain and France condemning Damascus for its alleged chemical attack.

Russian Deputy Envoy to UN Vladimir Safronkov said that Russia supports on-spot probe into the alleged chemical attack, rather than in a remote way.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Russia was ready to veto the resolution if Western countries rush the vote.

The U.S Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley threatened on Wednesday that her country may take unilateral action if the UNSC failed to respond.



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