MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday the US Congress had no right to approve the use of force against Syria without a decision from the UN Security Council, and that doing so would be an "act of aggression".
Putin also accused US Secretary of State John Kerry of lying to Congress about the militant group al-Qaida's role in the Syrian conflict when seeking the approval of US legislators for military action against Syria's government.
"They lie beautifully, of course. I saw debates in Congress. A congressman asks Mr Kerry: 'Is al-Qaida there?' He says: 'No, I am telling you responsibly that it is not'," Putin said at a meeting of his human rights council in the Kremlin.
"Al-Qaida units are the main military echelon, and they know this," he said, referring to the United States. "It was unpleasant and surprising for me - we talk to them, we proceed from the assumption that they are decent people. But he is lying and knows he is lying. It's sad."
Putin did not give any more details.
In an exchange with a senator, Kerry was asked whether it was "basically true" that the Syrian opposition had "become more infiltrated by al-Qaida over time. Kerry said: "No, that is actually basically not true. It's basically incorrect".