Assad Credits Russia With Chemical Weapons Move - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Assad Credits Russia With Chemical Weapons Move

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Syrian President Bashar Assad says his government has agreed to surrender its chemical weapons in response to Russia's initiative and not because of the U.S. threat of attack.
 
Assad told Russia's state Rossiya 24 news channel in an interview that is set to be broadcast fully later Thursday that "Syria is transferring chemical weapons under international control because of Russia."
 
He added that "the U.S. threats hadn't influenced" his government's decision.
 
Russia on Monday proposed that Syria place its chemical weapons under international control and eventually dismantle them to avert a U.S. strike, and Syria quickly accepted the proposal.

International efforts to secure Syria's chemical weapons are focused in Geneva today. 
 
Secretary of State John Kerry and a team of U.S. experts are meeting with their Russian counterparts today and tomorrow to determine how to safely inventory the weapons stocks and delivery systems in an active war zone and transfer than to international control to be destroyed. 
 
One U.S. official calls the task "difficult and complicated" but doable.
 
The hastily arranged trip comes as the White House is pinning success or failure of a new diplomatic track on Russia's willingness to take a tough line with its ally Syria. The U.S. wants an agreement to be bolstered by a U.N. resolution to hold Syria accountable for using chemical weapons.
 
Meanwhile,  U.S. officials say the CIA has been delivering light machine guns and other small arms to Syrian rebels for several weeks, following President Barack Obama's decision to arm the rebels.
 
The agency has also arranged for the Syrian opposition to receive anti-tank weaponry like rocket-propelled grenades through a third party, presumably one of the Gulf countries that has been arming the rebels, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official and two former intelligence officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the classified program publicly.
 
The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal first reported the lethal aid.
 
Top rebel commander Gen. Salim Idris told NPR on Thursday that rebels had received no such aid from the U.S. The CIA declined to comment.
  
And - Russian President Vladimir Putin says U.S. military intervention in other countries' internal conflicts has become alarming commonplace and he's calling for caution in dealing with Syria.
 
In an opinion piece for The New York Times, Putin says a U.S. military strike would create more victims and could spread the conflict beyond Syria, warning it could unleash a new wave of terrorism.
 
The Russian leader also takes a shot at President Barack Obama's Tuesday night address, in which he said American ideals and principles "are at stake in Syria" as he made his case for military action against the Assad government.
 
Putin writes: "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation." He adds that whether countries have long democratic traditions or are still finding their way to democracy, "we must not forget that God created us equal."

-- 

Activists say infighting between rebel forces in Syria has killed at least 50 in clashes in the country's northeast.
 
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday that the fighting took place in Hassakeh province.
 
It says clashes between Kurdish fighters and members of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in the past two days left 13 Kurdish gunmen and 35 militants dead.
 
The two sides have been fighting in northern Syria for months in clashes that left scores of people dead on both sides.  (AP) 

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