Syria’s National Coalition sceptical about regime joining chemical weapons treaty

Opposition says move an attempt to evade international sanction

Free Syrian Army fighters carry their weapons as they run to take cover and to avoid snipers loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in the eastern Hama countryside. Photograph: Reuters.

Free Syrian Army fighters carry their weapons as they run to take cover and to avoid snipers loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in the eastern Hama countryside. Photograph: Reuters.

Sat, Sep 14, 2013, 01:01


Syria’s opposition National Coalition yesterday dismissed the government’s decision to join the chemical weapons ban treaty. It called for the UN Security Council to issue a tough resolution to ensure compliance with the convention’s terms within a set time frame and with the potential sanction of international military action.

The coalition said it is “deeply sceptical about the . . . regime’s signing of the . . . convention . . . Such a gesture comes as too little, too late to save civilians from the regime’s murderous intent and is clearly an attempt to evade international action as well as accountability.”

Syrian regime allies, Russia, China and Iran discussed the crisis during a Shanghai Co-operation Organisation summit in Kyrgyzstan.

Russian president Vladimir Putin welcomed Syria’s accession to the global ban on chemical weapons.

“It is an important step towards the resolution of the Syrian crisis; this shows the serious intention of our Syrian partners to follow this path,” he stated, warning that US military intervention would be “unacceptable”.


Russian warships
In response to the Syrian conflict, the Russian navy is to expand its Mediterranean fleet from seven to 10 warships. Fleet admiral Viktor Chirkov declared: “The task is crystal clear: to avoid a slightest threat to the security of the state. This is a general practice of all fleets around the world, to be there when a tension level increases . . . Russia will be building up its Mediterranean fleet until it is deemed sufficient to perform the task.”

Moscow began its deployment in the Mediterranean in 2012 and over the past 10 months has established a constant presence in the eastern sector.

France has told Lebanese president Michel Suleiman that any western attack on Syria due to its alleged use of chemical weapons would not target Lebanon or Hizbullah.


‘Lost time’
In Beirut, caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati warned that violating Lebanon’s policy of disassociation from regional disputes has “set us back tens of years and we are trying to make up for lost time.”

He called for dialogue rather than rivalry among all the country’s political factions.

Speaking of the Syrian situation, he stated: “Local forces banking on changes in Syria are heading on a dangerous road.”

He added that Lebanon cannot tolerate the repercussions of such policies.

Jordan has asked for $1.1 billion to cope with the influx of 580,000 Syrian refugees who are placing a serious strain on the country’s economy, limited water resources, and health and educational sectors.

Some 3,300 Syrians – the majority fleeing Egypt where they are not welcome – have landed by boat in Italy, reported the UN High Commission for Refugees.