Stillwater News Press

September 26, 2013

Russia offers to guard Syria arms destruction

Associated Press

DAMASCUS, Syria — Russia offered on Thursday to provide troops to guard facilities where Syria’s chemical weapons would be destroyed, as U.N. inspectors prepared to continue their probe on the use of such agents in the country’s civil war.

In the latest infighting among rebels, activists said a commander of a local al-Qaida offshoot died in clashes with Kurdish militiamen in northern Syria, the second senior group leader to be killed in a week.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which closely monitors the fighting in Syria, said the commander, from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, died Wednesday night during ongoing fighting with Kurds in the northern province of Aleppo. The Britain-based group did not provide the man’s name but identified him in a statement Thursday as a UAE national and the emir — or local commander — of Aleppo.

On Monday, a top al-Qaida commander was killed in an ambush by rival Western-backed rebels.

Infighting between al-Qaida-linked extremists and other, more moderate rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad has spiked in recent days.

Also Thursday, a mortar shell slammed into the Iraqi consulate building in central Damascus, killing one person and wounding three, Syrian state media reported.

In Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia is ready to ensure security and help guard facilities, once the chemical weapons are stored for destruction in Syria. He spoke just hours before diplomats at the United Nations said the five permanent members of the divided U.N. Security Council appeared to have reached agreement on a resolution requiring Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons stockpiles.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister had said negotiators had overcome a major hurdle and agreed that the text of the resolution would include a reference to Chapter 7 of the U.N.  Charter, which allows for military and nonmilitary actions to promote security.