Russia slams calls to use force in Syria

Russia slams calls to use force in Syria

Russia slams calls to use force in Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov answers questions during a news conference at the Russian Embassy in Washington, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Russia hit out Friday at calls for force to be used after Syria's opposition and European states accused the war-torn country's regime of killing hundreds in chemical weapons attacks.

Russia has urged the Syrian government to cooperate with a U.N. experts mission and allow it to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons by troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Aug.23.

The ministry also said in a statement that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had agreed that an objective investigation was needed into the allegations when they spoke by telephone yesterday.

Russia has been Assad's most powerful international ally during Syria's civil war. The ministry statement said rebel forces should guarantee safe passage for the U.N. mission.

Meanwhile, China said Aug.23 that no side should rush to pre-judge the results of any probe by U.N. chemical weapons experts in Syria.

The United Nations has demanded Syria give its chemical weapons experts immediate access to rebel-held Damascus suburbs where poison gas appears to have killed hundreds just a few miles from the U.N. team's hotel.

"The U.N. inspection team has already gone to Syria to start their probe, and (China) hopes and believes they can fully consult with the Syrian government to ensure the smooth progress of the investigation work," China's Foreign Ministry said.