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Russia's Putin says Kerry lied about al-Qaeda forces in Syria

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has talked tough about United States foreign policy before, and he didn't mince words about calling U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry an outright liar about the al-Qaeda forces currently at work in Syria. Putin says that Kerry lied by telling Congress that al-Qaeda-linked forces don't have a role in the fight against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "They are lying, of course, in an ugly way. I watched the debates in Congress. A congressman asks Kerry: 'Is al-Qaeda there?' He says: 'No, we are telling you responsibly that they're not,'" Putin said in a meeting with human rights activists this week.

Putin alluded to an answer Kerry gave to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he said the opposition had not been infiltrated and degraded by al-Qaeda, and was in fact becoming more moderate and inclusive.

Al-Nusra, which Putin described as a branch of al-Qaeda, was currently fighting in Syria.

"They [the U.S.] know this. It was very unpleasant and surprising for me. We talk to them and assume they are decent people. But he is lying and he knows he's lying. It's sad," Putin said.

The al-Nusra Front has been defined by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, calling it an alias of al-Qaeda in Iraq. The U.S. has also declared al Nusra's leader as a terrorist, saying he has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.

Putin also dismissed President Barack Obama's decision to ask Congress for approval for a military strike in Syria in response to claims of chemical weapons being used against civilians.

"The U.S. Senate is, in essence, in the process of legitimizing aggression," he was cited as saying by Russian news agencies.

Russia has strongly opposed strikes against the Syrian government, saying that the U.S. claims as unreliable.

Putin said the Russian Foreign Ministry would help initiate contacts between Russian and U.S. civil society on the Syria question.

"Contacts will, of course, be useful. To be honest I don't think they'll have the necessary effect, but in any case [our] conscience is clear that we've done everything we can to prevent this slaughter," he said.

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