News / Middle East

Syrian Rebels Dismiss Chemical Weapons Framework

Head of Free Syrian Army Selim Idriss arrives at the Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul, April 20, 2013.
Head of Free Syrian Army Selim Idriss arrives at the Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul, April 20, 2013.
Edward Yeranian
The head of the opposition Free Syrian Army says that a Russian-brokered plan to rid Syria of its chemical weapons will not solve the two-and-a-half-year-old conflict in his country. The rebel commander spoke to journalists Saturday in Istanbul, as heavy fighting continued in the Damascus suburbs. 

Syrian government troops pounded the rebel-held Damascus suburbs of Barzeh, Madhamiya and Joubar with field artillery and from the air. The ongoing government offensive coincided with U.S.-Russian negotiations in Geneva that produced a framework Saturday for dismantling Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons.

In Istanbul, rebel military commander General Selim Idriss condemned the plan, arguing that Russia was not a neutral party.

He says the opposition categorically rejects the proposal, because it has no faith in the Assad regime or in Russia, which helps the regime to kill Syrians. He said the initiative is an attempt to gain time and find an exit for the [Assad] regime. He adds that the initiative has nothing in it for the opposition, which will continue to fight.

Meanwhile, Syria's government news channel al-Ikhbariya accused neighboring Turkey of supplying the rebels with chemical weapons. The TV broadcast asked if Washington is planning to “punish its ally Turkey” as a part of the chemical weapons plan. It also showed what it claimed were bags of chemicals with the label “made in Saudi Arabia.”

Key points of US-Russian proposal for eliminating Syria's chemical weapons

  • A full declaration from Syria of chemical weapons storage and production sites in one week
  • Initial on-site inspections of sites by November
  • Destruction of chemical mixing, production and filling equipment by November
  • Elimination or removal of chemical weapons material and equipment by mid-2014
  • Syrian violations could prompt U.N. Security Council action
Rebel commander General Idriss, however, insisted his forces “have no chemical weapons on territory controlled by the Free Syrian Army,” adding they would “not hinder the work of U.N. monitors” if they wished to enter rebel-held territory as part of their mission.

Both General Idriss and other opposition figures are also accusing the Syrian government of covertly moving parts of its chemical weapons stockpile to neighboring Lebanon and Iraq. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the Assad regime had dispersed that stockpile to 50 sites across the country.

Opposition sources claimed that government warplanes bombed rebel positions near the southern city of Daraa to prevent them from advancing.  Government planes also reportedly bombed rebel positions in the northern town of Saraqeb, near Idlib, Saturday.

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
September 15, 2013 11:39 AM
President Obama handled the Assad problem so poorly, President Putin of Russia has to bail out Obama to save his face internationally. But the Americans cannot bail out the Obama for no concrete policy towards the dictatorship of Assad and the agony of the people of Syria. Obama's wave of red lines against Assad keep on changing. His promises to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) never substantiated. His pronouncements and announcements to the rest of the world keep on changing. Obama lost the trust of the Americans, the FSA and the rest of the free world. What is the difference between killing of 1000 people by chemical weapons when compared to more than 110,000 of Syrians killed, two million of Syrians becoming refuges and 4 four million of Syrians becoming internally displaced persons (IDP) inside Syria with the total destruction of homes and infrastructure of the country by bombing, missile and tank attacks against people of the country? Assad has used weapons of mass destruction whether it is chemical weapons, or bombing, missile attacks and tanks against the people of Syria than any dictator in the 21st century and Obama is the most confused and mistrusted US president in the 21st century.

by: ali baba from: new york
September 14, 2013 8:11 PM
who care about the opinion of rebel leader. ? it is a middle east deception. he can solve the problem without conflict but he choose to fight with the name of Allah. double standard ,lies and never straight up his motive. .
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
September 15, 2013 6:35 PM
Bashar el Assad is less evil than the rebel. if Assad is wiped from the map who is going to replace him? this gang which has connection to terrorist organization. the rebel will not put food on the table of starving Syria. gulf countries are not give enough aid to keep the country alive. the rebel are hungry of power and has no respect for human being .the conclusion Syria will be converted to anarchy /
In Response

by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
September 15, 2013 1:01 PM
Agree with you. We should not be supporting these gangs without knowing who is who in the rebels. Our military and the CIA never learns. One would think afer the support to the Talibans, the raise of Bin Ladin, we would have learned. Sadly, we the average Joes seems to realize this more than our politicians and the intelligence agencies. It makes one wonder what drives our intelligence agencies.
In Response

by: Anonymous
September 15, 2013 9:46 AM
Who cares about the opinion of the rebel leader? Majority of Syria.
It is a big deal. He can not solve the problem of assad bombing all over Syria, without disabling him. This has been proven since 2.5 yrs ago. Praise to the Syrian people and the FSA. For the FSA will have another battle on their hand after they wipe assad off the map, they will have to defend their country from al qaeda.

The only reason assad is not sitting in the hague on criminal charges such as mass murder, genocide, destruction is because Putin and China seem to think it is okay for a tyrant to be doing these things.

Assad should be arrested and held FULLY accountable for his crimes. The crimes he commited were long before chemical weapons even came in to play. If proven he did that too, then the ICC must step in without any consent of Russia or China and "Go get theri man".

by: Anonymous
September 14, 2013 4:58 PM
Selim Idriss is 100% correct. He fights for the people of Syria and their safety. assad must go, and the world must put their thumb on him and assure him he is never to represent the Syrian people again. Murdering so many civilians and breaking so many crimes, within his so called nation is serious. He is not only a criminal but not owed any respect by anyone. What this is doing is bringing more hatred to assad and russian Putin everyday the war goes on. The people of Syria, ARE SYRIA. What the people of Syria want is what the people of Syria should get. They should not be muzzled by assad to try and keep himself in so called power. On the ground Syrians worry more about assads bombing runs, snipers, and tanks, than anything. He has killed so many Syrians all over the country from these acts. He most definately does not deserve any "Get out of jail" card.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs