Moscow (CBSDC/AP) — Russia’s foreign minister is urging Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control as pressure mounts in the West for military intervention.
Russia is calling on Syria to put its chemical weapons under international control to avoid a conflict he warns could cause an “outburst of terrorism,” and create more refugees, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
He responded after Syrian President Bashar Assad warned the U.S. “to expect everything” if it attacks in retaliation for his alleged use of chemical weapons that killed more than 1,400 civilians in Damascus.
“We are calling on the Syrian authorities not only agree on putting chemical weapons storages under international control, but also for its further destruction and then joining the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,” Lavrov said, according to Russia Today. “We have passed our offer to [Syrian Foreign Minister] Al-Muallem and hope to receive a fast and positive answer.”
Syria’s foreign minister said he “welcomes” Russia’s proposal.
“Syria welcomes the Russian proposal out of concern for the lives of the Syrian people, the security of our country and because it believes in the wisdom of the Russian leadership that seeks to avert American aggression against our people,” Walid al-Moallem said, according to CBS News.
The announcement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov came a few hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Syrian President Bashar Assad could resolve the crisis surrounding the alleged use of chemical weapons by his forces by surrendering control of “every single bit” of his arsenal to the international community by the end of the week.
Kerry added that he thought Assad “isn’t about to do it,” but Lavrov, who just wrapped a round of talks in Moscow with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem, said that Moscow would try to convince the Syrians.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry continued to make his case for military action abroad, reiterating that there is more than enough evidence to justify a military strike against the Assad regime.
“We know that his regime gave orders to prepare for a chemical attack,” Kerry told reporters in London. “We know by tracing it physically where the rockets came from and where they landed. The evidence is powerful, and the question for all of us is what are we going to do about it.”
“If the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in that country would allow avoiding strikes, we will immediately start working with Damascus,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov said that he has already handed over the proposal to al-Moallem and expects a “quick, and, hopefully, positive answer.”
In an interview with CBS news, Assad warned the United States that it could face “repercussions” if a military strike is launched.
“The government is not the only player in the region. You have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideologies, you have everything in this region now,” Assad told Charlie Rose.
Kerry dismissed the Assad regime’s repeated denials that it was to blame for the Ghouta attack.
“This is a man without credibility,” Kerry said of Assad.
Asked by CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan whether there was any way, at this stage, for Assad to stop an attack by the U.S., Kerry said the Syrian leader “could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over. All of it. Without delay, and allow a full and total accounting before that, but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done.”
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