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House intelligence chief calls Syrian weapons deal 'a big win' for Russia

Russia's eleventh-hour deal forcing Syria to abandon its chemical weapon stockpiles was a "big win" for Moscow's interests in the Mideast, undercutting America's position in the region, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich) said Sunday.


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"This is a Russian plan with Russian interests" at its core, the House intelligence committee chief said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Russian President Vladimir Putin "got exactly what he wanted" in Syria, as a result of the Syrian disarmament plan, Rogers said.

"This was a big win for him," the Michigan Republican added.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov approved the framework for the Syrian deal on Saturday.

Under that framework, Syrian President Bashar Assad must hand over his chemical weapons stocks to international control, led by the United Nations.

But the deal does not prevent Russia from continuing to arm Assad's forces and allows Moscow to keep its military bases in the country, Rogers pointed out.

Additionally, any military action to ensure Assad complies with the disarmament deal will be decided by the U.N. Security Council, where Russia holds a key vote.

Russia, a longtime Syria ally, has repeatedly blocked U.S.-led efforts in the council to rein in the Assad regime's ongoing offensive against opposition forces in the country.

That said, "we have given up every ounce of leverage" to find a diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war by agreeing to the Russia plan, according to Rogers.

“If we wanted a transition from Assad, we just fired our last round” in terms of leverage, the House intelligence chief said.

The Obama administration "gave that away in this deal" he added.

On Sunday, Kerry told reporters in Israel the United States will continue to keep the threat of military force on the table, to force Assad to give up his chemical stockpiles.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif) pushed back against Rogers's claims on Sunday, saying the Russia deal was the best opportunity for the White House to address Syria's chemical weapon threat.

"This is about as good as a deal as [we] can get," Schiff said on CNN.

Convincing Assad to hand over his weapons and sign on to an international treaty banning those weapons “without a single shot fired is . . .a phenomenal breakthrough" for U.S. interests in the region, he added.