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Syria calls US-Russia chemical weapons deal a 'victory' that averts war

A Syrian minister said it was 'thanks to our Russian friends' that a deal to eliminate their chemical weapons was signed to avoid a military strike.

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 9: Jehad Sibai waves flags during a rally in support of possible U.S. military action in Syria, on Capitol Hill, on September 9, 2013 in Washington, DC. A Syrian minister has called the US-Russia chemical weapons deal struck in Geneva on Saturday a "victory" that will avert war. (DREW ANGERER/AFP/Getty Images)

Syria has hailed a deal struck by the United States and Russia to rid the country of chemical weapons, calling it a "victory" that averts war.

National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar was quoted by Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti on Sunday as calling the compromise "a victory for Syria won thanks to our Russian friends."

"We welcome these agreements. On the one hand, they will help Syrians come out of the crisis, and on the other hand, they prevented the war against Syria by having removed a pretext for those who wanted to unleash it," Haidar was quoted as saying.

The US and Russia scored a diplomatic breakthrough on Saturday during a meeting in Geneva when they announced the two countries had a plan for ridding Syria of chemical weapons.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and their teams crafted the deal through days and nights of intense negotiations.

More from GlobalPost: US, Russia reach an agreement on ridding Syria of chemical weapons (VIDEO)

Under the six-point plan, Syria will turn over a "comprehensive listing" of its chemical weapons stockpile within a week and eliminate them entirely by mid-2014.

The deal could be enforced by a United Nations resolution including a military strike if Syria fails to comply, reports the BBC. 

China, another ally of Syria with veto power at the UN, also welcomed the deal.

"We believe this framework agreement has cooled the tense situation in Syria and has opened a new opportunity to use a peaceful means to resolve the chemical weapons issue," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said after a meeting with his French counterpart.

But a Syrian opposition group said that a ban on chemical weapons is not enough to end the brutal violence that has killed an estimated 100,000 people.

"The world must not allow [President Bashar al-Assad's] regime to take advantage of the Russian initiative and their joining the treaty on the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons as an excuse to continue the daily slaughter of the Syrian people with impunity," it said in a statement.

"The Assad regime has a long track record of deceit when it comes to dealing with the treaties and empty promises in the regime attempt to buy more time," the coalition statement added.

The group called for an end to the use of airpower over populated areas.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday he expects an investigative report, likely out Monday, to show chemical weapons were used last month in Syria. 

The White House claims the chemical weapons attack in August killed more than 1,400 people, including hundreds of children.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/130915/syria-calls-us-russia-chemical-weapons-deal-victory-a

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