MOSCOW (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad said his troops did not use chemical weapons in an attack on a rebel-held suburb in a Damascus last week where hundreds of people died.
The United States have said that there is little doubt that Assad's regime was responsible for the attack on Aug. 21 in the capital's eastern suburbs. Anti-government activists and Doctors Without Borders say that more than 300 people were killed in an artillery barrage by regime forces Wednesday that included the use of toxic gas.
Assad told Russia's Izvestia daily that the accusations that his troops were responsible were "politically motivated."
"This is nonsense," Assad was quoted as saying in an interview published Monday. "First they level the accusations, and only then they start collecting evidence."
Assad said that attacking such an area with chemical weapons would not make sense for the government as there was no clear front line between regime and rebel forces.
"How can the government use chemical weapons, or any other weapons of mass destruction, in an area where its troops are situated?" he said. "This is not logical. That's why these accusations are politically motivated, and a recent string of victories of the government forces is the reason for it."
Syria said Sunday that a U.N. team could investigate the site but a senior White House official dismissed the deal as "too late to be credible."
With France, Britain, Israel and some U.S. congressmen urging swift military action against Assad's regime if the use of chemical agents is confirmed, the U.N. team's conclusions could have a dramatic impact on the trajectory of the country's civil war.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said no decision had been made on a military intervention but that any response would be "proportionate."
"It will be negotiated in coming days," Fabius told Europe 1 radio on Monday. He said that the lack of a U.N. blessing was problematic, but that all options remain on the table.
"The only option that I can't imagine would be to do nothing," Fabius said.
Russia, who has been a staunch ally of Syria, said last week that the accusations against Assad could be a bid to get the Security Council to stand by the opposition, and to undermine efforts to resolve the conflict by convening a peace conference in Geneva.
A list of winners at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards, which aired live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Video of the year: Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
Best female video: Taylor Swift, "I Knew You Were Trouble."
Best male video: Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"
Best pop video: Selena Gomez, "Come & Get It"
Best hip-hop video: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton, "Can't Hold Us"
Best rock video: Thirty Seconds to Mars, "Up In the Air"
Best collaboration: Pink and Nate Ruess of fun., "Just Give Me a Reason"
Best video with a social message: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert, "Same Love"
Best song of the summer: One Direction, "Best Song Ever"
Artist to watch: Austin Mahone, "What About Love"
Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award: Justin Timberlake
Best direction: Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie" (director David Fincher)
Best visual effects: Capital Cities, "Safe and Sound"
Best choreography: Bruno Mars, "Treasure"
Best art direction: Janelle Monae featuring Erykah Badu, "Q.U.E.E.N."
Best cinematography: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton, "Can't Hold Us"
Best editing: Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two top lawmakers are calling for an immediate U.S. military response to the Syria's suspected chemical weapons attack that killed at least a hundred civilians last week.
Republican Sen. Bob Corker is calling for the U.S. to respond in a "surgical and proportional way, something that gets their attention." The Tennessee lawmaker says such a response should not involve U.S. troops on the ground, however.
Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel of New York says the U.S. must respond "quickly," together with NATO allies, possibly using cruise missile strikes, as the U.S. and NATO did in Libya.
A senior administration official said Sunday there is "very little doubt" a chemical weapon was used, but added the president had not yet decided how to respond.
Corker and Engel appeared on "Fox News Sunday."