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Syrian rebels blast Russian offer on chemical arms

BEIRUT – Syrian rebels have blasted the Russian proposal on securing their country’s chemical weapons, saying that Bashar Assad’s government should instead be made to face an international court for last month’s attack near Damascus.

The top rebel commander, Gen. Salim Idris, says regime officials should be referred to the International Criminal Court for the alleged Aug. 21 chemical attack near the Syrian capital that killed hundreds.

Idris, speaking for the Free Syrian Army, says “chemical weapons were the tool of the crime” in the attack in Ghouta suburb.

He says the FSA “categorically rejects the Russian initiative.”

Idris’ statement was broadcast on Thursday on pan-Arab satellite channels, hours ahead of talks in Geneva between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the Russian proposal.

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