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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said U.S. threats to use military force against Syria were unacceptable and that Washington would be violating international law if it acted without the approval of the U.N. Security Council.
The United States said on Friday it was in the planning process for a limited military response to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a "brutal and flagrant" chemical weapons attack that it says killed more than 1,400 people in Damascus 10 days ago.
The Syrian government denies using chemical weapons.
Russia, an ally of Assad's, opposes any military intervention in Syria, warning an attack would increase tensions and undermine the chances of ending the civil war. It is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, with veto power.
"Washington statements with threats to use force against Syria are unacceptable," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement late in Friday.
"Any unilateral use of force without the authorisation of the U.N. Security Council, no matter how 'limited' it is, will be a clear violation of international law, will undermine prospects for a political and diplomatic resolution of the conflict in Syria and will lead to a new round of confrontation and new casualties."
Lukashevich also said that Washington's threats were made "in the absence of any proof" of the Syrian government using chemical weapons.
Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Pravin Char