Putin: Syria Chemical Attack Was Provocation Against Assad - NBC Boston
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Putin: Syria Chemical Attack Was Provocation Against Assad

Putin said the attack was a provocation intended to put the blame on the Syrian ruler, insisting that "Assad didn't use those weapons"

Find NBC Boston in your area

Channel 10 on most providers

Channel 60 and 8 Over the Air

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    A man who lost his wife, two children and other relatives in the suspected chemical attack in Idlib, Syria, wept while visiting their graves on Wednesday. (Published Wednesday, April 5, 2017)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted Friday that the Syrian leader didn't use chemical weapons against his people, saying the recent attack that killed scores of civilians was a "provocation" against President Bashar Assad.

    Speaking at an economic forum in St. Petersburg on Friday, Putin made one of his strongest rejections of blaming Assad's forces for the chemical attack in April. The attack in northern Syria killed at least 90, including many children.

    "We are absolutely convinced that it was a provocation. Assad didn't use the weapons," Putin said. "It was done by people who wanted to blame him for that."

    He added that Russian intelligence had information that a "similar scenario" was to be implemented elsewhere in Syria, including near Damascus.

    Trump Tightens Sanctions Against North Korea

    [NATL] Trump Tightens Sanctions Against North Korea

    President Trump is hitting North Korea with severe new sanctions and issuing an ultimatum to the world: If you do business with Kim Jong Un the United States will not do business with you.

    (Published Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017)

    "Thank God, they were smart enough not to do that after we released information about it," he said.

    The attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun caused an international uproar as images of the aftermath, including quivering children dying on camera, were widely broadcast.

    Russia, one of Assad's closest allies, and the Syrian government have repeatedly denied using chemical weapons. Following an equally fatal chemical attack in 2013, Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States and declared a 1,300-ton chemical arsenal when it joined the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

    That stockpile has been destroyed, but the organization continues to question whether Damascus declared everything in its chemical weapon program.

    This year, the new U.S. administration led by Donald Trump was quick to react. In a one-off, the U.S. struck a Syrian air base with cruise missiles only days after the April 4 attack after accusing Assad's military of killing scores of civilians with a nerve agent launched from the base.

    Putin said Russia had offered the U.S. and its allies the chance to inspect the Syrian base for traces of the chemical agent and criticized them for their refusal to do so.

    GOP Still Split on Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill

    [NATL] GOP Lawmakers Split on Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill

    Republicans expect to vote next week on a health care bill known as Graham-Cassidy, named for the senators who wrote it, which would scale back Medicaid. Some GOP lawmakers are split on the newest effort to undo Obamacare, while Democrats are planning for more demonstrations against it.

    (Published Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017)

    Last week, a team from the international chemical weapons watchdog found exposure "to sarin or a sarin-like substance" in samples it examined from the April 4 attack and said it is planning a trip to visit the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in northern Syria.

    The team has conducted interviews with victims of the alleged attack and witnessed the collection of biomedical samples from casualties. It also received samples from dead animals reported to have been close to the site of the incident and environmental samples from close to the impact point.

    OPCW fact-finding teams have been investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria but aren't mandated to determine responsibility for attacks. That has been left to a joint U.N.-OPCW investigative body.

    Putin said Assad is not without mistakes but investigation into his adversaries' actions must also be pursued.

    "Has Assad make mistakes? Yes, quite a few. And what about people confronting him? Are they angels? Who are they who kill people there, execute children? Are they people who we should support?" he said.

    Putin said he wanted to avoid Syria meeting the same fate as Somalia or Libya, where militias rule.

    Graham Confident on New GOP Efforts to Revise Healthcare

    [NATL] Graham Confident on New GOP Efforts to Revise Healthcare

    An upbeat Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) touted his healthcare bill  co-sponsored with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) Tuesday, speaking to reporters after a closed-door luncheon with other law makers to push the bill. 

    (Published Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017)

    "Primarily, we are defending not Assad but the Syrian statehood. We don't want to see the situation there become like it is in Libya, Somalia or Afghanistan," he said. 

    Asked about his view of Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, Putin refrained from criticizing the move and called for a constructive dialogue on efforts needed to curb global warming.

    He underlined the importance of the Paris climate accord, but noted that it's a framework agreement offering a broad room for maneuver for each signatory nation.

    Putin also said that Trump's promise to negotiate new conditions for the U.S. leaves hope for reaching a compromise before the Paris deal takes effect, adding that U.S. participation is essential for the success of global efforts.

    He joked that Trump's move made him a convenient person to blame for any spell of bad weather, including wet snow in Moscow on Friday, an extremely rare occurrence in the summer.

    "Now we can dump it all on him and American imperialism," Putin said.

    Trump Mulling Parade to Show US 'Military Strength'

    [NATL] Trump Mulling Parade to Show US 'Military Strength'

    President Donald Trump enjoyed France's Bastille Day celebration so much while he was visiting France that he is considering a July 4th parade to showcase the U.S. military.

    (Published Monday, Sept. 18, 2017)

    Associated Press writer Sarah El Deeb contributed from Beirut. Isachenkov reported from Moscow.