Assad’s forces on attack after U.S.-Russia arms deal

Reuters reports: Syrian warplanes and artillery bombarded rebel suburbs of the capital on Sunday after the United States agreed to call off military action in a deal with Russia to remove President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons.

President Barack Obama said he may still launch U.S. strikes if Damascus fails to follow a nine-month U.N. disarmament plan drawn up by Washington and Assad’s ally Moscow. But a reluctance among U.S. voters and Western allies to engage in a new Middle East war, and Russian opposition, has put any attacks on hold.

Syrian rebels, calling the international focus on poison gas a sideshow, dismissed talk the arms pact might herald peace talks and said Assad had stepped up an offensive with ordinary weaponry now that the threat of U.S. air strikes had receded.

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