Syrian Rebels Reject Russian Proposal as Kerry and Lavrov Meet for Talks

Opposition groups in Syria slam diplomatic efforts to stall U.S. strikes against Assad, while Secretary of State John Kerry flies to Geneva to hold talks with Russian counterpart

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Hamid Khatib / Reuters

A Free Syrian Army fighter holds his weapon as he stands inside a burned shop in Aleppo's Karm al-Jabal district, July 23, 2013.

A Russian-backed proposal that would see Syrian President Bashar Assad surrender his chemical weapons stockpile to international custody has been panned by Salim Idriss, the head of the Syrian opposition’s Supreme Military Council.

“We announce our definitive rejection of the Russian initiative to place chemical weapons under international custody,” said Idriss, in a video posted online.

Following U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision on Tuesday to shelve a military strike against Assad’s forces, fresh clashes broke out across Syria, including a renewed push by government troops to retake the Christian town of Maaloula, northwest of Damascus.

(MORE: Putin Calls for Diplomacy on Syria in Times Op-Ed)

Meanwhile U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lands in Geneva on Thursday where he will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The pair will then begin the tough task of pulling together a plan that will allow Assad’s government to turnover their chemical weapons.

Later on Thursday, a French envoy is set to present a draft resolution, already been approved by the U.S. and U.K., to the Russian and Chinese delegations at the U.N. Security Council, calling for the immediate surrender of Assad’s chemical stockpiles. However, Russian officials have expressed doubts over the draft, which reportedly pins the Aug. 21 nerve gas attack in Damascus on forces loyal to Assad, and leaves a potential military option on the table if the regime does not comply — a caveat that Moscow has dismissed.

U.N. inspectors will also deliver the results of their independent investigation of the area where the chemical weapons strike occurred. In an exclusive report published in Foreign Policy on Wednesday, an unnamed “senior Western official” was quoted as saying that the the U.N. inspectors have a “wealth of evidence” that implicates the Assad government.

During a Press TV interview broadcast on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif continued to challenge the growing international line that Assad’s government gassed its own citizens. “There was and still is no proof that the use of chemical weapons was perpetrated by the government [of Syria],” said Zarif.

MORE: Syria’s Assad May Be Losing Control Over His Deadly Militias

6 comments
lapazjim
lapazjim

Of course Russia is going to make this proposal,but didn't Kerry propose it first.When Kerry proposed it it was unacceptable.Yet when Russia proposed it it became a good idea.Well makes no difference as long as it gets done and at the same time avoids a possible widening of the conflict.

The biggest question that should be asked though is: "What are Russia's true intentions and ultimate goal in the Middle East?" It appears that they have their eyes set on more than just Syria.They are now supplying Iran with S-300 missiles and who knows what else.They are helping Iran to build yet another reactor? Russia may have more than one agenda for this area.What happens when they begin to build military bases in both countries? What happens when massive amounts of military equipment begins showing up?? Then maybe their intentions will be seen!! However it could be surmised that Russia may have a possible objective that involves much of the worlds oil.If they try to get control of that then you will see more than just a small fight to get it back!!!!

xiongnu
xiongnu

Strange, no? The men claiming they were gassed by the Syrian government REJECT the plan to remove chemical weapons from the hands of that government!

FreeAmerican
FreeAmerican

Who cares what they reject. Bring our troops home.

Jillxz
Jillxz

The rebels are not the Syrian government and have no say in the matter.

falcon269
falcon269

So the rebels want war and not peace? That is pretty much what I suspected. Let them have war, then, but no with U.S. military intervention. No wonder Assad gases these guys; they are pretty much without rationality.

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

@xiongnu 

It would appear that the chemical weapons represent some asset to the rebels.