Free Syrian Army fighters stand in shooting position in Aleppo's Sheikh Saeed neighbourhood, September 15, 2013. REUTERS-Molhem Barakat
Assad Government Hails 'Victory' In Arms Deal, Troops Attack -- Reuters
(Reuters) - Syria's government hailed as a "victory" a Russian-brokered deal that has averted U.S. strikes, while President Barack Obama defended a chemical weapons pact that the rebels fear has bolstered their enemy in the civil war.
President Bashar al-Assad's jets and artillery hit rebel suburbs of the capital again on Sunday in an offensive that residents said began last week when Obama delayed air strikes in the face of opposition from Moscow and his own electorate.
Speaking of the U.S.-Russian deal, Syrian minister Ali Haidar told Moscow's RIA news agency: "These agreements ... are a victory for Syria, achieved thanks to our Russian friends.
Though not close to Assad, Ali was the first Syrian official to react to Saturday's accord in Geneva by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Bridging an angry East-West rift over Syria, they agreed to back a nine-month U.N. programme to destroy Assad's chemical arsenal.
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Update: During talks on Syria’s chemical weapons, fighting on the ground escalated -- Washington Post
My Comment: There is now no incentive for Syrian President Assad to enter into discussions with the opposition for a negotiated peace agreement. With a U.S. military response now neutered, and the Syrian rebel movement being fractured between moderate and Islamic extremists .... I predict that President Bashar al-Assad will now try to ride out this conflict. Unfortunately .... I am also predicting that this winter will result in the killings of Syrians at unprecedented levels.