Putin writes to Americans on US strike against Syria

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to the media at a polling station during a mayoral election in Moscow, on September 8, 2013. (AFP Photo/Alexey Druzhinin)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has directly appealed to the American people and to US politicians on Syria by writing an article in the New York Times warning that a military strike could unleash a new wave of "terrorism". 
Writing in the newspaper on Thursday, Putin said there were "few champions of democracy" in the 2-1/2-year-old civil war in Syria, "but there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all types battling the government."
Putin stressed in a New York Times opinion piece the need to work through the United Nations and not conduct unilateral military action in Syria. He said a U.S military strike "would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism," and could negatively effect efforts to address Iran\’s nuclear program and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.  
Putin also said there is "every reason" to believe opposition fighters were the ones responsible for using chemical weapons in Syria in a bid to draw an outside military response.  The U.S. has blamed the Syrian government for using poison gas against civilians.
Meanwhile, Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov are due to meet Thursday in Geneva to discuss the details of the Russian-proposed plan for Syria to give up its chemical weapons to the United Nations to be destroyed.
The chief of the rebel Free Syrian Army Salim Idris rejected Russia\’s proposal in a video posted online, saying the international community should not only remove the weapons, but also punish those responsible for using them.
President Barack Obama this week cautiously endorsed Russia\’s diplomatic initiative, but said the U.S. military will be ready to respond if diplomacy fails
The U.S. says 1,400 people were killed when Syrian forces used poison gas against civilians last month near Damascus.  
President Obama says U.S. ships in the Mediterranean region are staying in place to keep pressure on the Syrian government to live up to any agreement on giving up its chemical weapons.  Kerry has said reaching any agreement to remove the chemical-weapons threat in Syria will be "exceedingly difficult."
The Syrian stockpile is one of the world\’s largest, and is scattered at sites across the country.
Envoys from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — are discussing a possible resolution for securing and dismantling Syria\’s chemical weapons.
Russia has already said it will block any attempt to include the potential use of military force against Syria to ensure it complies with any order.
More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and the UN refugee agency says about one third of Syria\’s pre-war population of 20.8 million have fled their homes, either to other countries or safer areas within Syria.
Source: Agencies

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