Russian President Vladimir Putin says US Congress has no right to ‘authorize aggression’ against Syria, accusing US Secretary of State John Kerry of lying to Congress about role of al-Qaeda in the Syrian conflict.
Putin made the remarks on Wednesday in an address to members of his human rights council in the Kremlin.
“They would be allowing an aggression since everything that is outside the framework of the UN Security Council is an aggression, unless it is self-defense,” said Putin.
The Russian president added that Kerry lied to Congress about al-Qaeda’s part in Syria in a bid to win approval from US lawmakers for a military attack against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Al-Qaeda units are the main military echelon [fighting against Syrian government], and they [the US] know this,” Putin noted, adding, “It was unpleasant and surprising for me — we talk to them, we proceed from the assumption that they are decent people. But he [Kerry] is lying and knows he is lying. It’s sad.”
Kerry was recently asked by a US senator if it was “basically true” that the Syrian opposition had “become more infiltrated by al-Qaeda over time.”
Kerry answered by saying, “No, that is actually basically not true. It’s basically incorrect.”
Meanwhile, Putin said earlier in the day that Moscow is committed to its military contracts for supplying military equipment and services to the Syrian government.
The Russian leader also stated that he would only support a UN resolution against Syria if the Damascus government is proven guilty of last month’s chemical attack. Putin said the evidence must be convincing.
Also on the same day, Russian military officials reported that Moscow is sending three more naval vessels to the Eastern Mediterranean, a move which Russia says is needed to protect its national interests, amid a possible US strike against Syria.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. The United Nations has reported that more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the violence.