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Divided World Powers Continue Debate on Syria UN Resolution

Russia and Western powers remain divided on who was responsible for a chemical weapons attack in Syria, but are continuing to work together toward a United Nations resolution on the removal of Syria's chemical arsenal.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that the attack last month near Damascus was a "provocation" by rebels seeking to draw in outside military help.

His French counterpart Laurent Fabius Fabius told the joint news conference after their meeting in Moscow that evidence presented in a report by U.N. investigators seems to leave no doubt that Syrian forces were the ones who deployed chemical weapons.

Lavrov also told reporters that the two diplomats share the same goal of bringing peace to Syria, but have different ideas of how to accomplish that feat.

Russia is opposing a push by France, Britain and the United States to include in the U.N. measure a threat of force if Syria does not comply. The U.S. and Britain said Monday they want a strong resolution that sets precise and binding deadlines for Syria to give up its chemical stockpile.

The U.N. report released Monday cites "clear and convincing evidence" that deadly sarin gas was used on a relatively large scale in an attack last month near Damascus.



It does not say who carried out the assault, but U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said it reinforces accusations that only Syrian troops had the capability to do so.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the evidence gathered by U.N. inspectors "indisputably" and "overwhelmingly" confirms the use of poison gas.

Mr. Ban, speaking after a closed-door briefing to the U.N. Security Council, described the attack as a war crime, and said 85 percent of blood samples from the victims showed evidence of sarin gas. He also said recovered fragments from surface-to-surface delivery rockets showed sarin use "beyond doubt and beyond the pale."

The report itself cited survivors describing "a military attack with shelling," followed by an onset of symptoms including "blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and an eventual loss of consciousness."

Also Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an order allowing the U.S. government to provide training and equipment to help international groups and "vetted members of the Syrian opposition" protect themselves from a future chemical attack.

It tasks U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with reporting to Congress on proposed exports 15 days before authorizing them to go ahead. International organizations and opposition fighters could get personal protective equipment, while the rebels could also receive "defensive chemical weapons-related training."

Meanwhile, Turkey said it shot down a Syrian helicopter that had flown up to two kilometers into Turkish airspace and was given several warnings. Syria's military said the helicopter was mistakenly flying over Turkey, and called the Turkish response a "hasty reaction" that showed it is trying to escalate the situation along their shared border.

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