Tensions between the world powers over reports of possible chemical weapons against Syrian rebels have grown sharper as the likelihood of some type of U.S. intervention in the conflict has increased. On Monday, the U.S. announced that senior American diplomats would not attend a previously scheduled meeting with Russian officials in The Hague, the Telegraph noted.
Russia’s foreign minister expressed regret that the meeting had been cancelled. Russia has been the primary supporter the regime of Bashar al-Assad during the conflict, which has raged for two years.
American officials say that there is evidence that the Assad regime was behind the use of chemical weapons, which may have killed as many as 1,300 last week. However, Russia disputes the accusation, asserting that the attack may have been faked by the rebels themselves.
U.S. President Barack Obama has previously called the use of chemical weapons a “red line” that would provoke punitive action agains the Assad regime. Reports surfaced earlier this year that rebel areas had been gassed, but evidence for that attack was considered inconclusive.
American and British warships are reportedly moving closer to the embattled country, possibly in preparation for U.S. missile strikes on Syrian military positions. Russia is all but certain to veto any authorization for a military response in the United Nations Security Council.
Global stock markets opened lower on Tuesday as worries about possible military action spread.
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