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Syrian opposition call Rouhani's mediation offer "laughable" - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Improvised mortar shells ready to be used by rebel fighters are stacked at a factory in the city of Aleppo, Syria, on September 21, 2013.  (EPA/JM LOPEZ)

Improvised mortar shells ready to be used by rebel fighters are stacked at a factory in the city of Aleppo, Syria, on September 21, 2013. (EPA/JM LOPEZ)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—On Saturday, the National Coalition for Syrian Opposition and Revolutionary Forces rejected a mediation offer made by Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on Thursday.

In an article published in the Washington Post on September 19, Rouhani said he was prepared to help “facilitate dialogue” between the opposition and Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.

Rejecting the offer, the opposition coalition said the proposal “lacked credibility” and was “laughable” because Iran was “part of the problem.”

A member of the political bureau of the Syrian opposition coalition, Kamal Al-Lubani, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that “any proposals from the allies of the Syrian regime only aim to avert a military strike,” adding that “the Russian and Iranian sides would never propose a real plan to resolve the crisis.”

Referring to the recent agreement between Russia and the US that Assad would place his chemical arsenal under international observation so that it can eventually be destroyed, Lubani said: “The regime will only surrender part of its chemical arsenal and hide the rest.”

Lubani strongly criticized the Iranian president, reminding him that “Iranian officers are directing military operations and managing security and strategic planning” for the Assad regime. He added that “instead of the nice words, Rouhani should withdraw his fighters from Syria.”

“What Syrians wanted today were practical measures, starting with handing over murderers to the criminal courts to end the killing and bombing operations,” the opposition coalition member said.

The Syrian regime yesterday submitted a “full list” of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in preparation for the weapons’ destruction as provided in the US–Russian Geneva agreement.

The organization said it “can confirm that we have received the expected disclosure from the Syrian government regarding its chemical weapons programme,” and that the “Technical Secretariat is currently reviewing the information received.”

In a related issue, a senior Kremlin official, Sergei Ivanov, said on Saturday that Russia would stop supporting Assad if it learned he was being deceitful about the chemical weapons program. The Russian Interfax news agency quoted his as saying that “what I am saying now is theoretical and hypothetical, but if we one day became certain that Assad was being deceitful, our position would change.”

Ivanov added that if it became clear without any doubt that that one of the parties in Syria were lying by denying their use of chemical weapons, “we will change our stance, and resort to Chapter VII” of the UN Charter.

Moscow has rejected passing any UN resolutions on Syrian under Chapter VII as that section allows the use of force.

Ivanov also said that sites where chemical weapons are being stored would be revealed within a week, pointing out that the Syrian regime is not in control of all Syrian territory.