Syria's Assad gets rare US praise over chemical weapons
Fast compliance with UN resolution on destruction of stockpile draws compliments from John Kerry
THE idea of the US praising Syria's President Bashar Assad would have been unthinkable a few months ago. But US Secretary of State John Kerry has offered the embattled Syrian leader some "rare, albeit qualified praise" over his country's efforts to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons, says USA Today.
In a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, Kerry said America and Russia were "very pleased" with Syria's efforts to comply with a UN Security Council resolution calling for the stockpile's destruction by 1 November. He noted that experts began destroying parts of the 1,000-tonne arsenal on Sunday, just over a week after the resolution was passed.
"Let me be crystal clear," Kerry said, "we're very pleased with the pace of what has happened with respect to chemical weapons. I think that was a terrific example of global cooperation, of multilateral efforts to accomplish an accepted goal and they have moved with equal speed to get on the ground in Syria and begin the operations."
Kerry said the Assad regime should take some "credit" for the rapidity of the Syrian response. It is a "good beginning and we should welcome a good beginning", he said.
The Daily Telegraph says "missile warheads, aerial bombs and chemical mixing equipment" were neutralised on Sunday, the first day of the operation. The arsenal is being destroyed by Syrian workers under the supervision of weapons experts appointed by the UN.
Lavrov said Russia, a staunch ally of the Assad regime, was also pleased with progress. But he made the point that the rebels fighting Assad must also comply with the resolution and ensure that chemical weapons do not fall into the hands of extremists. Russia has accused the rebels of being responsible for the 21 August attack on a Damascus suburb despite most countries blaming the Syrian government. ·