Syria chemical arms accord a 'disgrace': ex- regime colonel

PARIS (AFP) - A resolution ordering the elimination of Syria's chemical arms is "a disgrace for the United Nations", opposition figures said in Paris, arguing it was making leader Bashar al-Assad "legitimate" again.

"This agreement is a disgrace for the United Nations, it's scandalous," Qassem Saadeddine, a former colonel in the Syrian army who defected in 2012, told AFP on a trip to the French capital.

"The international community has grabbed on to chemical arms and forgotten the 100,000 victims of the conflict," said Saadeddine, who represents the military command of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) inside the war-torn country.

His comments on Monday came ahead of the planned arrival of a 20-strong disarmament team in Damascus to begin ridding Syria of chemical weapons - one of the largest and most dangerous operations of its kind.

They are implementing a UN resolution that was passed on Friday after weeks of intense diplomatic activity following the August 21 poison gas attack in Damascus suburbs, which Washington believes killed over 1,400 people.

"Bashar al-Assad has become respectable, legitimate again," said Yahia Nanah, head of the provincial council of Aleppo in northern Syria, which aims to organise a semblance of normal civilian life in this violence-ridden area.

"All these massacres and it comes to this? It's as if the Syrian revolution happened over a chemical arms issue, when it was actually launched to create a state ruled by law in Syria." Both men are due to take part in a debate on Syria on Tuesday organised by a Socialist lawmaker at the lower house National Assembly.

Assad on Sunday told Italy's Rai News 24 his regime would comply with the accord.

"This regime lies and will save time. What we ask of France is to give us real support," Saadeddine said.

On the ground, the rebellion is increasingly fragmented and extremists are gaining ground.

Last week, 13 rebel factions said they no longer recognised the Syrian National Coalition - the main exiled political opposition group - to which the FSA is linked.

"If these groups have become independent, it's probably because they found better sources of finance," Saadeddine said.

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