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Report: Assad says Russian plan prompted weapons move

Published On: Dec 24 2013 05:40:56 AM CST   Updated On: Sep 12 2013 10:04:25 AM CDT
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian Arab News Agency

Syria's decision to place its chemical weapons arsenal under international control was the result of Russia's proposal rather than the threat of a U.S. military strike, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a Russian TV channel Thursday.

"Syria is handing over its chemical weapons under international supervision because of Russia," al-Assad said in an interview with state-run news channel Rossiya-24. "The U.S. threats did not influence the decision."

An alleged chemical assault took place on the outskirts of Damascus on Aug. 21. U.S. officials say more than 1,400 people died, many of them children.

The Syrian government has said that opposition fighters launched the chemical attack.

Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet with his Russian counterpart in Geneva, Switzerland, on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, a U.S. official told CNN CIA-funded weapons have begun flowing to Syrian rebels. But opposition groups say they have yet to receive any.

Meanwhile, a Vladimir Putin-penned editorial in The New York Times has at least one White House official saying it's an indication the Russian president is "now fully invested in Syria's chemical disarmament."

And a U.N. report says that both sides -- the regime and the rebels -- have committed war crimes in Syria's bloody 2-year-old civil war.