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DID SYRIA HIDE STASH? Rebel leader says Assad moved chemical weapons to Lebanon, Iraq

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 17th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is secretly hiding his chemical weapons outside Syria in order to prevent his arsenal from being destroyed, a rebel leader has claimed. It's suspected that the ruthless dictator took his arsenal across the border to Lebanon and Iraq to evade a possible inspection. Government forces were said to have acted after the U.S. and Russia agreed to secure and eliminate the weapons, which was hailed by the regime as a "victory."

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "We have told our friends that the regime has begun moving a part of its chemical weapons arsenal to Lebanon and Iraq. We told them do not be fooled," the head of the Syrian opposition's supreme military council, General Salim Idris says.

Idris criticized the U.S.-Russian deal for allowing Assad to escape being held to account for killing hundreds of civilians. "All of this initiative does not interest us. Russia is a partner with the regime in killing the Syrian people.

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"A crime against humanity has been committed and there is not any mention of accountability." Idris' comments came after one of Assad's ministers, Ali Haidar, claimed the deal was a victory for the regime.

"On the one hand, it helps Syria come out of the crisis and on the other, it helps avoid war. It's a victory for Syria," Haidar said.

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In addition, a government minister has praised their "Russian friends" for brokering the deal which seeks to destroy Syria's chemical weapons by mid-2014. If Syria complies, America agrees not to launch military strikes.

President al-Assad must turn over full details of the country's chemical weapons stockpile within a week, or face U.N. enforcement which could lead to further conflict.

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"These agreements ... are a victory for Syria, achieved thanks to our Russian friends," Haidar said.

President Bashar al-Assad's jets and artillery hit rebel suburbs of the capital again this past weekend in an attack that residents said began last week, when President Obama delayed air strikes in the face of opposition from Moscow and his own electorate.

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Rebel brigades have expressed haughty disregard for President Obama and his government after shying away from military intervention against al-Assad's regime.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, however sent a strong warning to Syria, insisting "the threat of force is real" if it does not carry out an internationally-brokered agreement to hand over its chemical weapons.

Kerry issued the warning in Jerusalem, where he briefed jittery Israeli leaders on the new American-Russian plan to rid neighboring Syria of its chemical weapons by mid-2014.

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In comments aimed at his hosts, Kerry said the deal also served as a "marker" for the international community as it deals with Iran's suspect nuclear program. "We cannot have hollow words in the conduct of international affairs," he added.

"These are crimes against humanity and they cannot be tolerated," Kerry warned.

In a deal meant to avert a threatened US military strike, US and Russian officials reached an ambitious agreement over the weekend calling for an inventory of Syria's chemical weapons program within one week. All parts of Syria's chemical weapons program will be removed from the country or destroyed by mid-2014.

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