World News

Putin: Syria Attack Would be "Utter Nonsense'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged world powers to exercise restraint concerning Syria as U.S. President Barack Obama mulls a possible military response to an alleged chemical weapons attack.

Mr. Putin said Saturday that any foreign military intervention in Syria would be "utter nonsense" because Syrian government forces are "advancing" against rebels.

He also urged the U.S. to allow the U.N. chemical weapons team that wrapped up its work in Damascus and left Syria on Saturday to present its findings.



"As for the position of our American colleagues and friends who state that the government forces have used weapons of mass destruction, in this case used chemical weapons, and say that they have evidence - let them present them to the UN inspectors and the UN Security Council.''



The U.N. inspectors collected samples from the sites of the alleged poison gas attacks in Damascus suburbs. The group will report to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.



On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. intelligence community had "high confidence" in a report indicating the Syrian government carried out a poison gas attack last week.

Kerry said the evidence, presented in a declassified version of a report, shows more than 1,400 Syrians were killed in the attack, including at least 426 children.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied launching any chemical attacks.

President Obama has been holding meetings with national security advisors, Congress and allies. He has said he is considering a "limited, narrow" response.

The White House says senior national security officials are holding conference calls with Senate leaders on Saturday to discuss the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons.

In another development, the opposition Syrian National Coalition and some civilians in Damascus say Syrian government forces have been rounding up political prisoners to potentially use as human shields during any military strikes.

###

Feature Story

FILE - Zhou Yongkang, then Chinese Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee member in charge of security, attends a plenary session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China.

Chinese State Media Praise Zhou Corruption Probe

Media reports say it is likely Zhou will be expelled from party, his case transferred to the courts, where defendants have little chance of escaping conviction More