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Putin Says He Could Support Syria Strike

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The United States said Sunday that it will double its non-lethal assistance to Syria's opposition as the rebels' top supporters vowed to enhance and expand their backing of the two-year battle to oust President Bashar Assad's regime. (Photo credit  DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States said Sunday that it will double its non-lethal assistance to Syria’s opposition as the rebels’ top supporters vowed to enhance and expand their backing of the two-year battle to oust President Bashar Assad’s regime. (Photo credit DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia “doesn’t exclude” supporting a United Nations resolution on punitive military strikes if chemical weapons were used in Syria.

Putin also warned the West against taking one-sided action in Syria when he spoke in an interview with The Associated Press and Russia’s state Channel 1 television.

Putin said Moscow has provided some components of the S-300 air defense missile system to Syria.  However, shipments of the weapon have been frozen.

He says Russia may sell the missile systems elsewhere if Western nations attack Syria without U.N. Security Council support.

According to CBS News, Putin said he felt sorry that President Barack Obama canceled a previous meeting with him in Moscow, but hopes that the two leaders can discuss Syria and other issues in St. Petersburg during the summit of G-20 nations.

“President Obama hasn’t been elected by the American people in order to be pleasant to Russia. And your humble servant hasn’t been elected by the people of Russia to be pleasant to someone either,” Putin said speaking of their relationship in the interview.

Russia’s leader said it was “ludicrous” that President Bashar Assad would use chemical weapons in Syria.

“If there are data that the chemical weapons have been used, and used specifically by the regular army, this evidence should be submitted to the U.N. Security Council,” Putin said. “And it ought to be convincing. It shouldn’t be based on some rumors and information obtained by special services through some kind of eavesdropping some conversations and things like that.

Putin said it was “too early” to discuss what Russia would do if the U.S. attacked Syria.

“We have our ideas about what we will do and how we will do it in case the situation develops toward the use of force or otherwise,” Putin noted. “We have our plans.”

A deadline for a Syria resolution would bar the U.S. from using ground forces if the Senate resolution authorizing Obama for any action is passed.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the draft resolution that the Foreign Relations Committee will vote on Wednesday.

CBS News says the measure would set a time limit of 60 days and says the president could extend that for 30 days more unless Congress has a vote of disapproval.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey agreed on the measure late Tuesday night.

“Together we have pursued a course of action that gives the President the authority he needs to deploy force in response to the Assad regime’s criminal use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, while assuring that the authorization is narrow and focused, limited in time, and assures that the Armed Forces of the United States will not be deployed for combat operations in Syria,” Menendez said in a statement. “The mass atrocity committed by the Assad regime in grave violation of international law requires American leadership. We have an obligation to act, not witness and watch while a humanitarian tragedy is unfolding in plain view. With this agreement, we are one step closer to granting the President the authority to act in our national security interest.”

The Obama administration says 1,429 people died from the attack on Aug. 21 in a Damascus suburb.  A U.N. inspection team is awaiting lab results on tissue and soil samples it collected while in the country before completing a closely watched report.

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