DAMASCUS, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Syria on Friday accused the United States of fabricating an intelligence report claiming the government used chemical weapons, while signs showed that the Obama administration is preparing for military actions against the Middle East country.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry said the U.S. accusations are "baseless lies," saying the U.S. used "fabricated" narratives circulated by armed rebels to frame the Syrian government.
In an unclassified intelligence report released on Friday, the United States claimed that 1,429 people, including at least 426 children, were killed during a gas attack near Damascus in the early hours of Aug. 21.
Ruling out the possibility that the opposition conducted the attack, the report noted that Washington has "high confidence" that the Syrian government carried out the attack and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is "the ultimate decision maker."
In a televised statement on Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States will "make its own decision" on its own timeline in response to Syria, noting its choice matters to U.S. security, credibility and leadership.
Following the report, U.S. President Barack Obama said he was considering a "limited, narrow act" in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict.
The U.S. president said he made "no final decision" and was "looking at a wide range of options," but ruled out "any boots on the ground approach."
Meanwhile, after British parliament vetoed a government action plan, Obama on Friday talked to his only major ally French President Francois Hollande over possible strike on Syria.
"Both heads of state agreed that the international community cannot tolerate the use of chemical weapons, that it should hold the Syrian regime accountable for it and send a strong message," said a statement issued by the Elysee Palace.
After Britain balked at the strike on Thursday, Germany and NATO also ruled out taking part in the possibly imminent strike.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told the newspaper Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung that any German participation in the military operation had "neither been asked nor is it being considered," saying it was up to "the United Nations Security Council to find a common position."
It marks a change of stance of the German government that previously said the Syrian government must be held responsible for the consequences of lethal attacks.
A Danish newspaper on Friday quoted NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen as saying that NATO will not take part in the possible attack against Syria in response to alleged use of chemical weapons.
Rasmussen said NATO's role will primarily be to support the member country Turkey, while he said he has no doubt that the Syrian government was behind the chemical attack against civilians.
As UN inspectors in Damascus are scheduled to leave for The Hague on Saturday, Syria said Friday that it rejects any partial report by the UN before its investigation team's mission is completed, requesting the UN team to look into sites where the government accused the rebels of using nerve agents against troops and civilians.
The UN has promised to return later to investigate several other alleged poison gas attacks that have taken place in Syria during the country's two-and-half-year civil war.
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said all the analysis of the samples
must be completed before conclusions can be drawn. Diplomats said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told Security Council members it may be two weeks before final results of the tests are ready.
On the same day, Ban started a series of consultations with the UN members on Syria amid escalating tension.
On Thursday, Ban spoke over the phone with Obama about how the United Nations and the United States could work together to "expedite the process of the investigation."
WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday that he has not made a final decision on a military strike against Syria.
Obama said he was considering a "limited narrow act" in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict, in remarks made before a meeting with three Baltic leaders at the White House. Full story
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Friday started a series of consultations with the United Nations member states on Syria amid escalating tension about the war-torn country.
Ban, who returned to New York on Thursday night from his shortened European tour, first gave the permanent members of the UN Security Council an overview of work by UN inspectors who arrived in Syria on Aug. 18 to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons there, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporter here, adding that Ban will reach out to other member states. Full story
WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday called French counterpart Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss possible measures to take to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad's government for allegedly using chemical weapons against the opposition.
The White House said in a statement Obama and Hollande spoke " as part of their continuing consultations regarding the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons on August 21." Full story
COPENHAGEN, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- A Danish newspaper on Friday quoted NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen as saying that NATO will not take part in the possible attack against Syria in response to alleged use of chemical weapons.
"I see no NATO role in an international reaction to the Syrian regime," Rasmussen told the Danish newspaper Politiken in the town of Vejle on Jutland Peninsula in western Denmark, where he is on a one-day trip to visit soldiers wounded in NATO operations in Afghanistan. Full story