Free Syrian Army General Tells NPR Russian Plan is a Lie

by Greg Pollowitz

As Secretary of State John Kerry was preparing to sit down with his Russian counterpart Thursday to discuss whether the Assad regime’s chemical weapons can be handed over to international monitors, the commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army was telling NPR that “the Russian initiative is just a lie.”

Russia is “playing games. … They know that the regime in Damascus is a criminal regime,” Gen. Salim Idris told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep.

The general’s words echoed a statement he made in a video posted online late Wednesday, The Associated Press reports. “We announce our definitive rejection of the Russian initiative to place chemical weapons under international custody,” Idris said in that video.

Kerry is in Geneva for at least two days of talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The U.S. delegation will be testing the credibility of the Russian plan — which the Assad regime says it has accepted. “Aides to Kerry expect an intense couple of days of meetings with Russian officials as they go over the nitty gritty of how this proposal might work,” reports NPR’s Michele Kelemen, who is in Geneva. . .