BEIJING (AFP) - Chinese state media warned the West against strikes on Syria on Thursday as momentum mounted for President Bashar al-Assad's regime to be punished over an alleged chemical weapons attack.
In an editorial headed "No excuse for strikes", the state-run China Daily said the US and its Western allies were "acting as judge, jury and executioner".
"Any military intervention into Syria would have dire consequences for regional security and violate the norms governing international relations," it said, adding such a move "will only exacerbate the crisis and could have unforeseen and unwelcome consequences".
Making a comparison with the war in Iraq, it said the international community should not allow "itself to be led by the nose by US intelligence, which after all was responsible for claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction".
China is a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, but the US has already said a proposed UN resolution that could have given an assault a legal foundation was going nowhere, blaming Russia.
In an unsigned commentary, the Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist Party, added that Washington lacked "a clear political end goal".
"Citing 'moral obscenity' as an excuse to gear up for military action seems rash and hasty," it said.
If strikes do take place, it added that "it is necessary for Russia and Iran to consider providing direct military aid" to Assad's government.
Beijing has called for a "cautious" approach to the crisis, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi backing a UN investigation to "find out the truth as soon as possible".
All parties "should avoid interfering in the investigation work or prejudging the results of the probes", he told the official Xinhua news agency Wednesday.
The foreign ministry has advised any Chinese citizens in Syria to leave as soon as possible.
Beijing says it opposes intervention in other countries' internal affairs and has previously attempted to block moves leading to military action in overseas conflict.