Iran supports proposal on Syria chemical weapons - official

DUBAI Tue Sep 10, 2013 2:24am EDT

U.N. chemical weapons experts prepare before collecting samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Damascus' suburb of Zamalka August 29, 2013. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

U.N. chemical weapons experts prepare before collecting samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Damascus' suburb of Zamalka August 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Bassam Khabieh

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran supports Russia's offer to work with Syria to put its chemical weapons under international control, the Iranian foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday he saw a possible breakthrough in the crisis with Syria after Moscow proposed that its ally hand over chemical weapons for destruction, offering a path that averts U.S. military strikes.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government has welcomed the Russian proposal.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran favors that initiative and we find this to be within the framework of putting a halt to militarism in the region," foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told a news conference carried live on state television.

Iran has staunchly supported Assad against rebels seeking to oust him, and has said the rebels, which it calls "terrorists," were responsible for the chemical attack.

Afkham said any action on chemical weapons should ensure they are not available to the rebels.

"There are concerns regarding possession of an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists," Afkham said. "We think that any kind of initiative should actually cover terrorists."

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; editing by Patrick Graham)

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