12 Sep 2013

Syria rebels behind chemical attack, writes Putin

11:10 pm on 12 September 2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a direct personal appeal to the American people on the topic of Syria.

In an opinion article in The New York Times newspaper, he warned any American military strike against Syria would unleash a new wave of terrorism.

Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin. Photo: afp

He argued that Syrian rebels were behind the chemical weapons attack that prompted the United States to threaten military strikes against Bashar al-Assad's regime.

In the opinion piece released late on Wednesday, Mr Putin suggested rebels carried out the attack to provoke foreign military intervention in their favour, AFP reports.

Mr Putin made the allegation on the eve of high-level talks in Geneva between US and Russian diplomats.

In a demonstration of the vast gulf between the US and Russian positions, Putin said Mr Assad's opponents were responsible for the 21 August attack in Ghouta.

The United States says the attack left more than 1,400 people dead.

President Barack Obama has pushed for military action against Syria following the attack, which the US, its allies and several independent monitors have said was carried out by Syrian government forces.

"No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria," Mr Putin wrote. "But there is every reason to believe it was not used by the Syrian Army but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists."