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  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 4:42am
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SYRIA

US credits Syria’s Assad over chemical arms destruction

US Secretary of State John Kerry also thanks Russia for cooperation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 October, 2013, 11:27am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 October, 2013, 1:10pm

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could take “credit” for swiftly moving to eliminate his regime’s chemical arms, top US diplomat John Kerry said on Monday, after UN experts began destroying Syria’s missile warheads and aerial bombs.

The operation, performed by Syrian personnel under the supervision of international disarmament experts, took place under the terms of a UN Security Council resolution that will see Damascus relinquish the banned arms.

“The process has begun in record time and we are appreciative for the Russian cooperation and obviously for the Syrian compliance,” Kerry told reporters alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after talks in Indonesia.

“I think it’s extremely significant that yesterday, Sunday, within a week of the (UN) resolution being passed, some chemical weapons were being destroyed,” the US Secretary of State said.

Whenever political decisions are made, mistakes happen. Even a president makes mistakes
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

“I think it’s a credit to the Assad regime, frankly. It’s a good beginning and we welcome a good beginning.”

Syria agreed to give up its chemical arsenal under last month’s UN resolution that enshrined an agreement struck between Washington and Moscow aimed at averting US military action.

Under the plan, Syria’s chemical weapons mixing and production facilities must be destroyed by November 1.

On Sunday, a statement released by the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said workers “used cutting torches and angle grinders to destroy or disable a range of items”.

The Syrian workers were destroying or disabling a “range of items”, including “missile warheads, aerial bombs and mixing and filling equipment”, the statement added.

The team faces the daunting task of disposing of an estimated 1,000 tonnes of the nerve agent sarin, mustard gas and other banned arms at dozens of sites in Syria by mid-next year.

International disarmament experts, who arrived on Tuesday, were also “monitoring, verifying and reporting” whether Assad’s government provided accurate information on its chemical stockpiles.

As the operation got under way, Assad admitted in an interview that his government had made “mistakes” in the country’s brutal conflict.

But he again denied that his forces used chemical weapons in an August 21 attack that killed hundreds of civilians.

The assault led to threats of a US strike and eventually the UN resolution requiring Syria to turn over its arsenal.

In Damascus, meanwhile, a barrage of mortar rounds slammed into a Christian neighbourhood, killing eight people.

And UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi called on Assad’s regime and the rebels to hold peace talks “without preconditions”.

The OPCW has said other methods to render Syria’s production facilities unusable could include explosives, sledgehammers or pouring concrete.

UN leader Ban Ki-moon is expected to send a report to the Security Council on Monday setting out in more detail the logistics of what is considered one of the biggest and most dangerous disarmament operations ever staged because the Syria war is still raging.

Assad insisted his government was being “very transparent” with the UN-OPCW team.

“The experts can go to every site. They are going to get all the data from us, they will verify them, and then they can make a judgement about our credibility,” he told Germany’s Spiegel magazine.

But he also acknowledged that mistakes had been made in responding to the uprising that took the form of peaceful protests when it began in March 2011 before escalating into a civil war after a brutal crackdown by government forces.

More than 115,000 people have since been killed, activists say. Two million people have become refugees and millions more have been displaced inside Syria.

“Whenever political decisions are made, mistakes happen,” Assad said.

“We all make mistakes. Even a president makes mistakes.”

Although acknowledging that “reality is not black and white”, he insisted that “our fundamental decisions were right”.

“You can’t just absolutely say ‘they carry 100 per cent of the blame and we carry zero’,” Assad said.

“But basically it’s correct that we are defending ourselves.”

The president also lashed out at US accusations that he had killed his own people with chemical weapons, saying President Barack Obama “presents not a single piece of evidence. Not a shred of evidence.

“He has nothing to offer but lies,” he added.

The magazine reported that German intelligence services believe Iran has allowed Assad’s regime to station warplanes on its territory as protection from foreign attack.

State news agency SANA said eight people were killed and 27 wounded in the Damascus district of Qassaa when four mortar rounds slammed into the Christian neighbourhood.

Rebels regularly fire into Damascus from rear bases in neighbourhoods around the city.

Despite the fighting, UN-Arab League peace envoy Brahimi told France’s TV5 Monde that he hoped the two sides would agree to attend a peace conference in Geneva in mid-November “without preconditions”.

“We are going to Geneva without preconditions,” Brahimi said.

“Mr Bashar al-Assad cannot say that he does not want to negotiate with ‘X’ or ‘Y’ and it’s the same thing for the opposition.”

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satish.chandra.90038
TO ALL THE STUPID **** OF THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL: INDIA IS THE SOLE SUPERPOWER
(Sept. 26 ‘13) All the stupid **** of the U.N. Security Council (the five permanent members) need to be reminded that India is the sole superpower; after destroying Washington and New York with its nuclear warheads emplaced in U.S. cities, India can compel the United States to use its nuclear-armed ICBMs to destroy, say, Moscow and St. Persburg, or Beijing and Shanghai or any other country in the world, or lose more of its own cities. What is said below about the flecks of filth that are Indian politicians or Manmohan Singh or RAW, etc. does not change this basic fact. Nothing that your puppy dog/ fleck of filth Manmohan Singh says either to the Negro in the White House or in the General Assembly on nuclear, military or economic issues or anything else matters; only what India’s legitimate ruler says matters; hosting him is an offense to India. IndiasLegitimateRulerSatishChandraDOTblogspotDOTcom
richard.barnes.528
The Syrian war has shifted from being about Assad to being about religion. Now 13 rebel groups have joined Al-Nusra which is linked to Al-Qaeda. The West has been backing the “good” Syrian rebels but now that looks to be an illusion. The question is of course; where do we go from here? Also linked to the Syrian war is Iran. As it stands now we have two possibilities. Possibility 1: that Iran wants to put a stop to any nuclear/military ambitions it has and will make an agreement to ensure that a bomb is not completed. Possibility 2: That Iran is close to completion and is buying time to complete their program. Based on the past I think that the west must demand that Iran stop it’s centrifuges BEFORE further talks take place. With all of this volatility if anything should go wrong the war written about in Isaiah 17 may take place. Many will die on both sides and Damascus Syria would be destroyed. In July of 2012 I wrote a small booklet that speaks of salvation and some of what the Bible says will happen in the end times as well as what will happen during the period known as the seven (360 day) year tribulation and other soon to take place events. I don’t accept donations and it’s free. It’s about 6 or 7 pages, so it’s a short read. I encourage you to have a look: ****www.booksie.com/religion_and_spirituality/book/richard_b_barnes/after-the-rapture-whats-next

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