Kremlin says US 'refusing to face reality' in Syria
MOSCOW - The Kremlin on Tuesday accused Washington of refusing to face up to reality over an alleged chemical attack on a rebel-held town in Syria, for which Moscow insists there is no evidence.
"You see the unconstructive position that some countries including the US have taken. They are a priori refusing to face reality," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
He added that "none of them is talking about the need for an unbiased investigation" and said that this limited the diplomatic options for Russia, but that it would continue "active work on the diplomatic front."
Peskov spoke after US President Donald Trump on Monday said the apparent chemical weapons attack would be "met forcefully" and indicated a decision on military action was hours away.
The Kremlin spokesman said that there was as yet no agreement on the date for a proposed meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin.
Russia's UN ambassador on Monday warned that the use of military force against Syria could have "grave repercussions."
The Russian defence ministry dismissed footage of attack victims as "yet another fake," following Moscow's practice of suggesting that rebels are staging attacks to discredit President Bashar al-Assad's regime, which Russia supports militarily.
The defence ministry said its specialists visited hospitals in Douma, the largest town in the Eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus, but found no evidence of a chemical attack.
Deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov on Tuesday said that "fabrications and false stories are being used to find some pretext for the use of military force," RIA Novosti news agency reported.
"We consider this absolutely unacceptable and extremely dangerous," Bogdanov said.
China on Tuesday also warned against military action in Syria after Trump's vow.
As he opened a cabinet meeting at the White House on Monday, Trump pledged "major decisions" to come within the "next 24-48 hours" after what he called a "heinous attack on innocent" Syrians in the rebel-held town of Douma that killed at least 40 people.
The Syrian regime and its ally Russia have both rejected claims of a chemical attack, with Putin warning against any "provocation and speculation on this matter".
Trump -- who last year launched a missile strike on a Syrian regime air base after another alleged chemical attack -- warned Sunday that there would be a "big price to pay".
The crisis was discussed Monday at an urgent UN Security Council meeting, while the US also circulated a draft resolution for a new independent inquiry of chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
At a regular press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said his country was "opposed to the wanton use of force or threat of force".
Before a "comprehensive, impartial and objective investigation" had been conducted into the incident, no party should "prejudge the results and come to conclusions randomly," he said.
"Military means will lead us nowhere."
China depends on the Middle East for its oil supplies but has long taken a back seat in the region's disputes, only recently beginning to expand its role, hosting high-level delegations from both the Syrian government and the opposition.
It consistently says the crisis needs a "political solution" but has numerous times vetoed UN Security Council measures aimed at addressing the conflict -- including an investigation of war crimes in the country.