Assad Credits Russia With Chemical Weapons Move

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

Associated Press Release

MOSCOW (AP) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad says his government has agreed to surrender its chemical weapons in response to Russia's initiative and not because of the U.S. threat of attack.

Assad told Russia's state Rossiya 24 news channel in an interview that is set to be broadcast fully later Thursday that "Syria is transferring chemical weapons under international control because of Russia."

He added that "the U.S. threats hadn't influenced" his government's decision.

Russia on Monday proposed that Syria place its chemical weapons under international control and eventually dismantle them to avert a U.S. strike, and Syria quickly accepted the proposal.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov are set to sit down together to discuss details of the plan in Geneva on Thursday.


Associated Press Release

BEIRUT (AP) -- Syria's main opposition block is urging the West to strike Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime despite Russia's initiative to have Damascus surrender its chemical weapons to international control.

The Syrian National Coalition dismisses the proposal as a maneuver to escape punishment. It has been cheering for international military action, hoping a blow would shift the bloody war of attrition between rebels and Assad's forces, which has left more than 100,000 dead in more than 2 1/2 years of fighting.

In a statement Tuesday, the coalition said Moscow's proposal "aims to procrastinate and will lead to more death and destruction of the Syrian people."

The group says, "A violation of international law should lead to an international retaliation that is proportional in size." It adds that handing over the weapons isn't enough to offset crimes against humanity.


Associated Press Release

MOSCOW (AP) -- Syria says it has accepted Russia's proposal to place its chemical weapons under international control for subsequent dismantling.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Tuesday after meeting with Russian parliament speaker that his government quickly agreed to the Russian initiative to "derail the U.S. aggression."

Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia is now working with Syria to prepare a detailed plan of action, which will be presented shortly.

Lavrov said that Russia will then be ready to finalize the plan together with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

President Barack Obama said Monday the Russian proposal could be "potentially a significant breakthrough," but he remained skeptical that Syria would follow through.


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