News / Middle East

US, Russia Reach Syrian Chemical Arms Deal

US, Russian Officials to Push for UN Resolution on Deali
September 14, 2013 6:06 PM
The United States and Russia have agreed on a framework for ending Syria's chemical weapons program. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from Geneva, where U.S. and Russian officials agreed to push for a U.N. resolution enforcing that plan without threatening military action.
VIDEO: Agreement requires Syria to make a full declaration of all chemical weapons storage and production sites within one week.
The United States and Russia have agreed on a framework for ending Syria's chemical-weapons program.
The agreement was announced by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday as they wrapped up talks in Geneva.
The plan requires Syria to make a full declaration within a week listing all of its chemical-weapons storage and production sites. It calls for the destruction of chemical arms production and mixing equipment by November and the elimination or removal from Syria of all chemical-weapons material and equipment by the middle of 2014.
U.S. and Russian officials agreed to push for a U.N. resolution enforcing the plan without threatening military action.

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
Kerry said if Syria does not comply with the agreement, the U.S. could request a U.N. Security Council "Chapter 7" resolution, which authorizes punitive action.
Lavrov said the deal does not include anything about potential use of force.
Lavrov, who disputes President Assad's responsibility for last month's attack, says the deal holds Syrian rebels to the same standards.

Plan could avert US military strike
During the three days of talks, U.S. and Russian officials agreed that Syria currently holds about 1,000 metric tons of chemical agents and precursors including sulfur mustard and sarin gas.
U.S. officials believe there are about 45 storage sites holding those munitions and related equipment, but they also say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime may have shifted the location of parts of its arsenal.
Story continues below photo gallery:
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network shows anti-Syrian regime protesters hold a poster depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kafr Nabil, Idlib province, Sept. 20, 2013.
  • Children sit along a damaged street filled with debris in the besieged area of Homs, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • Debris is seen on the ground after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • An injured man walks along a street after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad shows a Syrian military tank on fire during clashes with Free Syrian army fighters in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 18, 2013.
  • A member of the Shohadaa Badr Brigade, which operates under the Free Syrian Army, stands in shooting position behind sandbags in Ashrafieh, Aleppo, September 17, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk through rubble inside the old city of Aleppo, Sept. 16, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he stands on rubble of damaged buildings in al-Aseela neighborhood near Aleppo's historic citadel, Sept. 13, 2013.
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen, a Syrian protester chants slogans during a demonstration in Arbeen, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 13, 2013.

Syrian compliance with the agreement could avert a U.S. military strike in retaliation for the Syrian government's alleged poison-gas attack on civilians last month near Damascus.
The United States says more than 1,400 people died in the attack, and that it has conclusive evidence showing the Syrian regime was responsible. The Assad government contends rebels carried out the attack.
U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the framework agreement with Russia, calling it "an important, concrete step." But, he added, there is much more work to be done.
In a statement Saturday, Obama said the U.S. will continue working with its allies and Russia to ensure there is a verifiable process of identifying and dismantling Syria's stockpile of banned weapons, and that there will be consequences if Assad's government does not comply.
Mixed reactions
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he is looking forward to learning more about the framework agreement, and pledged the support of the United Nations in its implementation. Ban said he hopes the agreement will prevent any further use of chemical weapons in Syria, and that it can help pave the path for a political solution to the civil war and "stop the appalling suffering inflicted on the Syrian people" since 2011.
France and Britain hailed the agreement Saturday. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and British Foreign Secretary William Hague will meet in Paris with Secretary of State Kerry on Monday to discuss the agreement in detail.
European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton said a number of EU states have the technical capacity to assist in securing and dismantling chemical weapons sites in Syria.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said thanks to the deal between the United States and Russia, there is a chance once more for a political solution to the Syrian crisis.
The head of the rebel Free Syrian Army said his group rejects the deal reached in Geneva, and believes Russia and the Syrian regime were merely "playing games to waste time." Speaking to reporters in Istanbul, General Selim Idriss said his forces will continue fighting against Assad's government.
Syria's main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), elected longtime political activist Ahmad Tumeh its new prime minister as it seeks to boost its standing as a credible political alternative in the civil war-stricken country.
SNC members have previously dismissed prior diplomatic efforts to address Syria's chemical weapons and said the plan gives the Syrian army free rein to fight on with conventional weapons.
In Washington, two prominent Republican senators had a sharply critical initial reaction to the Kerry-Lavrov plan. They predicted it would turn out to be "meaningless" unless it explicitly raises the possibility of the use of military force against Syria. In a joint statement, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham characterized the deal as "an act of provocative weakness" on America's part.
The two senators said the agreement does not resolve Syria's "real problem" — the civil conflict that has resulted in over 100,000 deaths.

UN investigation

A long-awaited United Nations report on Syria's alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians in August is due out Monday. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has said the findings, based in site visits, boxes of evidence and eye witness accounts, "will be an overwhelming report that the chemical weapons was used."

VIDEO: World Awaits UN Findings on Syrian Chemical Weapons
World Awaits UN Findings on Syria Chemical Attacki
September 14, 2013 1:14 PM
The long-awaited United Nations report on Syria's alleged chemical weapon attack on civilians in August is due out Monday. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more on what it is expected to say and what impact the report may have.

Kent Klein at the White House, Margaret Besheer at the United Nations, Edward Yeranian in Cairo and Pam Dockins in Washington contributed to this report. Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
by: jale from: türkiye
September 14, 2013 5:25 PM
what about people killed with chemical weapons they vill never come back and with that plan whoever used chemical weapons were not penaltized and ı think in this circumstances Eses vill take advantage every point

by: Dr. Liz from: LA
September 14, 2013 4:14 PM
Kerry and his goons dressed up in suits are no more than WARMONGERING SCUM LIARS, that should be brought up on treason charges for arming, funding and training the very Al Qaeda whom vows to destroy the West. The CIA is a disgusting bunch of SCUM GOONS for being 100% behind this!

by: pirooz from: iran
September 14, 2013 2:09 PM
obama was cheated by the russian proposal , it is a conspiracy by these 3 countries, iran , russia , syria and obama was tempted by the acceptance of this. the problem in syria is firstly and majorly ,the murdering and killing of syrian people by bashar assad forces and its allies so the chemical attack is one of the worst crime in syria which already has done many times and international watchdog was silent and now this agreement between russia and the us is the last alternative for the us and not any other group or country because the us is under pressure of its public and congress so i dont think that bashar asad will be honest toward this program and he will cheat international surveilance by moving its weapons to iraq or conceal them under ground or any other methods so this plan is lack of security and certainty . bashar asad , iran and russia won this war and it shows incapability , misfunctioning and indecisive policy of the barak obama . as an iranian i hope he wont repeat this mistake against my goverment for its nuclear ambition which is more dangerous than that its alliy chemical weapon.

by: Mathews from: USA
September 14, 2013 1:42 PM
The United States of America is standing on the wrong side and going on the wrongful way. This mistake is contrary to all what Americans have believed. The forces that we have been supporting are the radical Islamic Jihadists they are terrorists the same people who have killed 3000 American in 09/11 and thousands American soldiers. OBAMA opens mouth with a considering "Syrian Government was the one using Chemical" weapon while the fact of evidence is contrarily against his words.
The allegation does not make any sense while Assad is needing a support from international community for his regime.
The rebels were the ones who used the chemical weapon under the shelter of CIA and The West for a reason to occupy Syrian Oil.

by: Steve Froud from: A safe Bunker in a forest
September 14, 2013 11:33 AM
All this proves is just how spineless and pathetic the West has become.

by: Whistleblower1 from: Washington, D.C.
September 14, 2013 11:21 AM
We knew that the Syrian rebels are mainly Al Qaeda, and that the U.S. has been supporting these terrorists for years.

And we knew that rank-and-file Syrian rebels have:

- Burned American flags

- Threatened to attack America

- Said: “When we finish with Assad, we will fight the U.S.!”

- And said: “We started our holy war here and won’t finish until this [Al Qaeda] banner will be raised on top of the White House. Keep funding them, you always do that, remember? Al Qaeda for instance.”

But even we were shocked to learn that the head of the Syrian rebels is also the global boss of Al Qaeda … and that he is calling for fresh terrorist attacks on America.

CBS News reports:

Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri called has called on Muslims to continue attacking Americans on their own soil in order to “bleed” the U.S. economy.

“To keep up the hemorrhage in America’s security and military spending, we need to keep the Unites States on a constant state of alert about where and when the next strike will blow,” Zawahiri said.

Reuters noted in February 2012 that al-Zawahri is backing the Syrian rebels, and asking his followers to fight the Syrian government.

But al-Zawahri has since taken control of the main Al Qaeda rebel terrorist group in Syria: al-Nusra.

Terrorism experts at the Bipartisan Center’s Homeland Security Project (co-chaired by 9/11 Chairs Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean) report (page 24):

A recent illustration of the fractured nature of the al-Qaeda network was provided during the spring of 2013 when Zawahiri [the global head of Al Qaeda] personally intervened to settle a dispute between Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Zawahiri rejected AQI’s assertion of control over al-Nusra and declared the Syrian group to be under his direction.

In doing so, Zawahiri was trying to assert control over two of al-Qaeda’s most virulent affiliates. AQI had mounted a series of spectacular attacks in Iraq over the past year, demonstrating that it was a force to be reckoned with. According to the Congressional Research Service, there were some dozen days in 2012 in which AQI carried out simultaneous multicity attacks that killed hundreds of Iraqis. And the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria is widely acknowledged as the most effective fighting force in the war against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Let’s put this in context. Most of the Syrian “rebels” are Al Qaeda. The U.S. government has designated these guys as terrorists.

Things are getting better, not worse: Al Qaeda is gaining more and more power among the rebels.

And the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel have been backing these guys for years. Indeed, we’ve long known that most of the weapons we’re shipping to Syria are ending up in the hands of Al Qaeda. And they apparently have chemical weapons.

We’re arming the same guys who are threatening to blow us up.

This is even stupider than creating Al Qaeda in the first place to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. At least then, they didn’t threaten America while we were arming them.

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