West urged to keep Syria distance
on 19/09/2013 22:06:41
Speaking today at the US State Department, Mr Kerry did not mention Russian president Vladimir Putin, but his remarks were a clear attempt to rebut Mr Putin's statement that Russia has strong ground to believe that Syrian rebels - not Assad - were responsible for the attack.
Mr Putin said the perpetrators relied on "primitive" technology using old Soviet-made ammunition no longer in the Syrian army's inventory.
Mr Kerry says the US believes a report by UN inspectors proves Assad conducted the attack.
Meanwhile Syria's deputy prime minister has said President Bashar Assad's regime will not continue as it has done but the Western world must "get off our shoulders".
Speaking on behalf of the government, Qadri Jamil told the Guardian that neither side was capable of defeating the other and a stalemate had been reached.
But he accepted that any ceasefire would have to be kept "under international observation".
"Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," he said. "This zero balance of forces will not change for a while.
"Let nobody have any fear that the regime in its present form will continue. For all practical purposes the regime in its previous form has ended. In order to realise our progressive reforms we need the west and all those who are involved in Syria to get off our shoulders."