Russian president Putin at the G20
Russian president Putin at the G20 (Reuters)

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said that chemical weapons were used as "provocation" by anti-Assad militants in Syria to get support from Western countries and encourage military intervention.

Speaking at a press conference on the margins of the G20 summit in St Petersburg, Putin said he met US president Barack Obama for 20 minutes but they did not agree on a way to solve the Syria crisis.

"It was a friendly conversation, we were sticking with our guns, we listened to each other and did not agree. But we understand each other.

"I don't agree with Obama's views on Syria and he doesn't agree with mine. But we had a constructive dialogue.

"We spent all evening discussing Syria. After that I had a meeting with UK prime minister David Cameron. The opinions at G20 don't divide 50/50."

"Chemical weapons allegations [in the attack on ghouta in which 1,400 were killed] were a provocation on the part of Syrian militants to get support from those country who support them and encourage intervention.

"Advocating force towards a sovereign state works only in case of self-defence. Those who do that violate the law."

Putin said that a possible attack in Syria would destabilise the Middle East, adding that Brazil, Russia, China, Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Italy all oppose military intervention against Assad.

"I can assure you that the vast majority of the population agree against expansion of military activity. Look at a sociological survey. Polls show vast majority of American people are against war in Syria."

His statement came after the Syrian parliament appealed to members of the US Congress to vote against military action in Syria, according to state news agency Sana.

While Russia warned the US against targeting Assad's chemical arsenal, the head of Syria's parliament Jihad al-Lahham urged the Congress "not to take reckless measures as you have the power to steer the United Stes from the path of war to that of diplomacy.

"Any military intervention would be illegal because Syria is a sovereign country and does not represent a threat to the United States, and any strike would not be authorised by the (UN) Security Council."

Obama has proposed limited strikes in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack on August 21, which Washington says was carried out by the Syrian government, a charge it denies.


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