Syrian official welcomes US-Russian weapons deal
A high-ranking Syrian official has welcomed the U.S.-Russian agreement to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, calling it a "victory'' for Damascus.
The comments Sunday from Minister of National Reconciliation Ali Haidar to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti are the first by a senior Syrian government official on the deal struck a day earlier in Geneva.
RIA Novosti quoted Haidar as saying the agreement "will help Syrians get out of the crisis'' and also "averted a war against Syria by removing the pretext for those who wanted to unleash one.''
The United States had threatened to carry out punitive strikes against Syria over a suspected chemical attack last month that Washington blames on the Damascus regime.
Haidar credited Russia with brokering the deal.
Meantime, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is sending a strong warning to Syria, saying that 'the threat of force is real' if it does not carry out a plan to hand over its chemical weapons.
Kerry issued the warning during a stop in Jerusalem on Sunday, where he discussed the new U.S.-Russian plan.
Kerry stressed that it would be crucial for Syria to honour the agreement.
Otherwise, the U.S. threat to use military force against Syria remains in effect.
Kerry said: "We cannot have hollow words.''
Photo credit: online.wsj.com