23 Sep 2013

Russia offers military observers in Syria

3:08 pm on 23 September 2013

Russia has expressed an offer to send troops to help in a proposed operation to eliminate Syria's chemical arms.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Russian TV that military observers could help Syria destroy its stockpiles.

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague said on Saturday Syria has met the deadline to submit details of its chemical arsenal, which is estimated at 1000 tonnes.

The BBC reports this was the first step in a deal announced in Geneva on 14 September by Russia and the United States to eliminate the weapons by the middle of next year.

Mr Lavrov told First Channel TV that a large contingent of Russian troops would not be necessary, rather a small detachment of observers.

Arab states and Turkey could be part of the monitoring mission, he suggested.

The BBC reports Mr Lavrov also accused the United States, Britain and France of being "blinded" by their objective of regime change in Syria.

He said Western countries were threatening to stop work on Syria's chemical disarmament deal unless Russia supported a UN resolution authorising military action against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia has blocked previous such resolutions in the Security Council.