President Vladimir Putin has reiterated that Moscow has information to suggest the August chemical weapons attack in Syria was launched by Syrian rebels. He was speaking at an international conference in the Russian city of Valdai,
The US, Britain, France and others believe UN weapons inspectors proved the attack was carried out by the Syrian army.
Putin said he was relatively confidant that Syria would comply with the destruction of its chemical weapons arsenal, but was not certain.
“Syria has announced that it already considers itself a member of the Chemical Weapons Convention. There are practical steps the Syrian government has already taken.Whether it will be able to bring this process to an end, I cannot be 100 percent sure, but everything we have seen in the last few days gives me confidence that it is possible,” he said.
In an interview on US television, President Bashar al-Assad confirmed his government would dispose of its chemical weapons. The process would take a year at a cost of one billion US dollars, Assad claimed and said he wants Washington to pay for that.
“If the American administration is ready to pay this money and take the responsibility of bringing toxic materials to the United States, why don’t they do it?” Assad told Fox News.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said it was essential the deal reached last Saturday for the destruction of Syrian chemical arms be enforced.
He added the United Nations Security Council should be willing to act on it next week, when the UN General Assembly holds its annual meeting in New York.
“The Security Council must be prepared to act next week,” Kerry told reporters in Washington. “It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out in the strongest possible terms about the importance of enforceable action to rid the world of Syria’s chemical weapons.”
As the focus remains on the US-Russian chemical weapons deal, conventional warfare continues to claim lives adding to the already desperate humanitarian situation in Syria.