‘Nodding like bobbleheads’: Putin slams NATO’s support for US violation of intl law in Syria
“What was the reaction of the NATO allies? All of them are nodding like bobble heads,” Putin said in an interview with Mir 24 TV channel.
“Where is evidence that Syrian troops used chemical weapons? No evidence. And what about the violation of international law? It is an obvious fact,” he added.
Yet despite the US shirking international law, NATO and its member countries have welcomed the unilateral missile strike on Syria – the first direct and deliberate action Washington has taken against President Bashar Assad.
Instead of condemning the attack, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the Syrian regime “bears the full responsibility for this development.”
On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande concurred in a joint statement, saying “President Assad alone carries responsibility for these developments” because of his alleged “repeated use of chemical weapons and his crimes against his own people.”
The US attacked Syria’s Shayrat Airbase near Homs on Friday night in reaction to a suspected chemical weapons attack in southern Idlib province. Washington immediately blamed Assad’s government for the incident, which reportedly killed dozens of civilians, claiming that Damascus had used the airfield to launch the attack. These accusations have not been supported by any conclusive evidence so far, however.
In the meantime, Russia says that Damascus had no reason, strategic interest, or even the physical capability to launch a chemical weapons attack, since its entire arsenal – with the exception of stockpiles on rebel-controlled territory – was destroyed under UN supervision in 2013. Moscow has demanded that a UN team be sent to the area to conduct an impartial investigation.
“Out of 12 facilities used for storing and producing chemical weapons, ten were destroyed, as confirmed by the OPCW experts. The Syrian government has no access to the remaining two facilities, as they are located in territory controlled by the so-called opposition,” the chief of the Russian General Staff’s operations department, Colonel General Sergey Rudskoy, told journalists during a news briefing, adding that it remains unclear if the chemical weapons stored at these two facilities had been destroyed.
On Tuesday, Putin called the attack on Khan Sheikhoun a “false flag” operation aimed at discrediting the Assad government, warning that similar incidents, possibly targeting a Damascus suburb, could occur in the future
“We have reports from multiple sources that false flags like this one – and I cannot call it otherwise – are being prepared in other parts of Syria, including in the southern suburbs of Damascus. They plan to plant some chemical there and accuse the Syrian government of an attack,” he said at a joint press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Moscow.
Putin also reiterated his call for an official inquiry into the incident in Khan Sheikhoun, saying that the alleged use of chemical weapons demands a proper investigation.