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.
The father of Florida teen Trayvon Martin is hoping his son's death can become a message of peace. '
Tracy Martin spoke to several hundred people who gathered at Forest Park Sunday night for PeaceFest 2013. The annual event focuses on ending violence on St. Louis streets.
Martin told festival-goers men have key role to play in bringing peace to a community. "We as men, we need to go back into the communities and start mentoring the kids," Martin said. "And just show them that they are loved and that their lives do matter."
Yesterday's festivities were sponsored by A Better Family Life, a local organization that focuses on bring about positive change for families and neighborhoods.
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"