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Putin: Syrian rebels may be preparing attack on Israel

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WASHINGTON (JTA) –Russian President  Vladimir Putin warned of a possible attack on Israel as the United States considers whether to strike Syria.

In a New York Times op-ed published Thursday, Putin chided the United States for its threats to strike Syria in the wake of a chemical weapons attack and warned that Syrian militants are preparing to strike Israel.

“Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored,” he wrote.

Putin did not say where these reports appear, but Russia Today, a television network seen as a Kremlin mouthpiece, has also reported such allegations, citing “a number of anonymous sources.”

In his article, Putin disputed Western claims that the chemical weapons attack, believed to have killed over 1,400 people, including hundreds of children, was the work of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“There is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army,” Putin wrote, “but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists.”

In an address Tuesday night, President Obama called off consideration of a strike while he considers Russia’s offer to mediate a deal that would remove chemical weapons from Syria.

“I welcome the president’s interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria,” Putin wrote. “We must work together to keep this hope alive.”

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