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September 17, 2013

Russia against use of force in Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria — Moscow insisted on Tuesday that a new Security Council resolution on Syria not allow the use of force, while the Arab country’s main opposition group demanded a swift international response following the U.N. report that confirmed chemical weapons were used outside Damascus last month.

Meanwhile, a car bomb exploded at a crossing point along Syria’s volatile border with Turkey, Syrian activist groups said. At least 15 people were wounded in the explosion at the rebel-controlled Bab al-Hawa crossing, they said.

In Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia “spoke clearly” about rejecting the use of force when the agreement on Syria abandoning its chemical weapons was worked out in Geneva between U.S. and Russian envoys.

But if signs emerge that Syria is not fulfilling the agreement or there are reports of further chemical weapons use, “then the Security Council will examine the situation,” Lavrov said, suggesting the issue could be reconsidered. He spoke at a news conference with French counterpart Laurent Fabius. France and the United States say a military option remains on the table and are pushing for the U.N. resolution to reflect that.

The meeting in Moscow came a day after U.N. inspectors submitted their report on the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that precipitated the heightened tensions over Syria. It was the first official confirmation by impartial experts that chemical weapons were used in the attack near Damascus, which killed hundreds.

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