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All Syria’s chemical weapons production lines destroyed – OPCW

Damascus has met the first disarmament deadline, having destroyed all previously declared chemical weapons production and mixing equipment, the international watchdog has confirmed.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has acknowledged that Damascus has complied with the watchdog’s decision, adopted on September 27, on complete elimination of chemical weapons and means for production in Syria before November 1.

Teams of experts have visited 21 out of 23 declared chemical weapon production sites (with 41 buildings and structures) and witnessed destruction of equipment at the facilities. The only two uninspected facilities were “too dangerous” to visit, but inspectors have confirmed that equipment from those two had been previously evacuated to safe locations and also destroyed.

“The OPCW is satisfied it has verified, and seen destroyed, all declared critical production/mixing/filling equipment from all 23 sites,” the OPCW document states.

PCW Director-General, Ahmet Üzümcü, has already welcomed a group of eight inspectors back to the OPCW headquarters in The Hague. They had worked in Syria as part of the Advanced Team since October 1.

Yet thousands of tons of warfare agents and chemicals remain to be eliminated.

Earlier Ahmet Üzümcü confirmed that Syria declared the possession of 1,300 tons of chemicals and precursors needed for chemical weapons production, as well as over 1,200 empty chemical munitions.

The process of elimination of all Syria’s chemical weapons is expected to take nine months.

 An image grab taken from Syrian television on October 19, 2013 shows an inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at work at an undisclosed location in Syria. (AFP Photo/Syrian television)

It must be mentioned that on October 11 the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was awarded the Nobel Prize for unprecedented efforts in eliminating chemical weapons. Over the 16 years of the OPCW’s watch, more than 80 percent of chemical weapons stockpiles worldwide have been eliminated.

The program of total elimination of Syria’s chemical arsenal was initiated by Moscow after the August 21 attack in Damascus, where malefactors of disputed origin used homemade chemical agents to slaughter civilians.

Some US allies in the Middle East called on Washington to start military aggression against Syria, on the pretext that it was the regime of President Bashar Assad that had used chemical weapons against its own people.

The US administration accepted Russia’s proposal to force President Assad to give up chemical stockpiles, amid accusations from allies that Washington was breaking its promise to launch a military strike on Assad if he crossed the ‘red line’ of resorting to chemical weapons.

However, Washington opted not to be dragged into yet another military conflict in the Middle East.