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Syrian Official Says Chemical Deal a ‘Victory’

Crisis in Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — A high-ranking Syrian official has welcomed the U.S.-Russian agreement to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, calling it a “victory” for Damascus.

The comments Sunday from Minister of National Reconciliation Ali Haidar to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti are the first by a senior Syrian government official on the deal struck a day earlier in Geneva.

RIA Novosti quoted Haidar as saying the agreement “will help Syrians get out of the crisis” and also “averted a war against Syria by removing the pretext for those who wanted to unleash one.”

The United States had threatened to carry out punitive strikes against Syria over a suspected chemical attack last month that Washington blames on the Damascus regime.

Haidar credited Russia with brokering the deal.