FSA chief says U.S.-Russia deal is a blow to Syrian uprising

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The head of the opposition Free Syrian Army on Saturday rejected an agreement between the United States and Russia to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stock by mid-2014.

“We cannot accept any part of this initiative,” General Selim Idriss told reporters in Istanbul, saying it is a blow to the two-and-a-half year uprising aiming to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“We in the Free Syrian Army are unconcerned by the implementation of any part of the initiative... I and my brothers in arms will continue to fight until the regime falls,” he said in a statement carried by Agence-France-Presse.

Idriss said the deal would allow Assad to avoid being held accountable for killing hundreds of civilians in a poison gas attack on Damascus on Aug. 21. Assad has denied responsibility for the purported attack.

The United States’ strike plans were put off after Russia proposed that Damascus put its chemical arms under international supervision, Assad agreed to the proposal.

Idriss spoke shortly after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the agreed time frame, after three days of talks in Geneva.

“Are we Syrians supposed to wait until mid-2014, to continue being killed every day and to accept [the deal] just because the chemical arms will be destroyed in 2014,” asked Idriss.

“We respect our friends [in the international community], and we hope our friends understand our position... We cannot accept this initiative because it ignores... the massacre of our people.”

(With Reuters and AFP)

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