CAIRO — The new agreement between the US and Russia, which sets out that Syria's chemical weapons must be destroyed or removed by mid-2014, have stirred mixed reaction with western powers welcoming it and Syrian rebels viewing it as ignoring civilians suffering.
“All of this initiative does not interest us. Russia is a partner with the regime in killing the Syrian people,” Gen. Salim Idris, the head of the Western-backed rebels’ nominal military command, the Supreme Military Council, told reporters in Istanbul, The New York Times reported.
“A crime against humanity has been committed, and there is not any mention of accountability.”
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stood side by side in Geneva as they set out a series of steps the Syrian government must follow.
According to the agreement, Syria must submit a comprehensive list of its chemical weapons stockpile within one week.
The agreement also states that international inspectors must be on the ground no later than November.
President Barack Obama said in a statement that the framework "represents an important concrete step toward the goal of moving Syria's chemical weapons under international control so that they may ultimately be destroyed."
"There are consequences should the Assad regime not comply with the framework agreed today. And, if diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act."
However, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia made clear that his country, which wields a veto in the Security Council, had not withdrawn its objections to the use of force.
The agreement came as a political way out for President Obama who was trying to garner support for a military strike to Syria for using chemical weapons following last August 21st suspected chemical weapons attack near Damascus which killed more than 1300.
William Hague, the British foreign secretary welcomed the deal as “a significant step forward.”
"Urgent work on implementation now to take place," Hague tweeted after the agreement.
“The priority must now be full and prompt implementation of the agreement, to ensure the transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons to international control,” he added.
At the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general, pledged to support the agreement.
He also announced that Syria had also formally acceded to the international Chemical Weapons Convention, effective Oct. 14.
The agreement, however, was not satisfactory to Syrian rebels, saying it has proved that the United States no longer cared about helping Syrians and was leaving them at the mercy of a government backed by powerful allies in Russia and Iran.
“I don’t care about deals anymore. The Americans found a way out of the strike,” Maysara, a commander of a battalion in Saraqeb in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, told The New York Times.
“The Russians did what they want. The Americans lied, and believed their own lie — the US doesn’t want democracy in Syria.
“Now I have doubts about the US capacities, their military and intelligence capacities. The Iranian capacity is much stronger, I guess.”
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