Washington/Geneva, Sep 13 — Syrian opposition groups Friday denied receiving US weapons but did not rule out the possibility of these arriving in the future. They also accused the Bashar al-Assad government of smuggling out Syria’s chemical weapons to Iraq and Lebanon.
The Washington Post Thursday reported that the shipments of weapons were delivered to the Syrian rebels together with separate deliveries by the US State Department of vehicles and other gear, but the rebels said they have not received any, according to CNN.
“We have some promises from the US administration of shipment of weapons in a short period of time, but until now we have not received any,” the CNN quoted Free Syrian Army political and media coordinator Louay al-Mokdad as saying.
“We have logistical help, but we didn’t get weapons until now. We hope that in the next short period of time we will start receiving weapons, because we have promises from EU countries and the US that they will help us and support us,” al-Mokdad added.
New types of non-lethal gear, including vehicles, sophisticated communications gear and advanced medical kits are also being supplied to the rebels, the Post report said.
The latest US aid is meant for rebel fighters under the command of Salim Idriss, head of the Supreme Military Council, a faction of the disjointed armed opposition, it added.
The Syrian rebels also accused the government of moving chemical weapons out of the country.
Salim Idriss, head of the opposition Free Syrian Army, said the Syrian government is smuggling the chemical weapons to Iraq and Lebanon, CNN reported.
“Today, we have information that the regime began to move chemical materials and chemical weapons to Lebanon and to Iraq,” Salim Idriss told CNN.
Idriss also said that Assad would use those chemical weapons sometime in the future after the international effort to collect and destroy the weapons is completed.
“The regime is behaving like Saddam Hussein,” CNN quoted Idriss as saying.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry began crucial talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on putting Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.
Kerry said before the meeting that diplomacy is and always has been the first resort, and achieving a peaceful resolution is clearly preferable to military action, Xinhua reported.
He said US considered the words of the Syrian regime were simply not enough, so they came to Geneva in order to work with Russia to make certain that this could be achieved.
“The Russian delegation has put some ideas forward and we are grateful for that and we have prepared our own principles that any plan to accomplish this needs to encompass,” he said.
“Expectations are high. They are high for the US, perhaps even more so for Russia to deliver on the promise of this moment,” said Kerry.
“This is not a game,” he said, adding that “it has to be real, comprehensive, verifiable, credible, and has to be implemented in a timely fashion”.
“Finally, there ought to be consequences if it doesn’t take place,” he said.
Lavrov said that “we should get down to a very serious work”.
“The development of the events gives us an additional opportunity for Geneva-II,” he said.