© AFP(Andrey Smirnov, File)A rally outside the US embassy in Moscow in support of the Syrian regime.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday dismissed claims that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons, demanding that the United States provide proof rather than taking rash action.
Speaking after the United States released an intelligence report, Putin rejected US use of intercepts of Syrian communications as evidence, saying that they could not be used to take "fundamental decisions" like using military force on Syria.
And he rubbished the notion that the Syrian army used chemical weapons, saying to do so would defy "common sense."
"Syrian government troops are on the offensive and have surrounded the opposition in several regions," he said in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok.
"In these conditions, to give a trump card to those who are calling for a military intervention is utter nonsense."
Russia, Syria's vocal and powerful ally, has vowed to block any action against the regime of Syria's Bashar Assad in the UN Security Council, where it is a permanent member.
Putin said he was sure the alleged attack was "nothing but a provocation" by those who want to drag other countries into the Syrian conflict, and demanded proof this was not the case.
"Regarding the position of our American colleagues, friends, who affirm that government troops used weapons of mass destruction, in this case chemical weapons, and say that they have proof, well, let them show it to the United Nations inspectors and the Security Council," he said.
Saying that such evidence is classified "does not stand up to criticism" and disrespects other countries, Putin said. "If there is evidence, it must be presented. If they don't show it, that means there is none."