International disarmament inspectors start mission in Damascus
On Wednesday, the international inspectors from the Organization
for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reportedly left
their hotel in Damascus.
Disarmament experts started their mission by cataloguing Syria's
vast arsenal of chemical weapons and checking a list of sites
provided by Damascus.
They are also expected to meet with the Syrian Deputy Foreign
Minister, Faisal Mekdad, to coordinate the upcoming inspections
and the process of destroying chemical weapons, according to AFP.
"In the coming days, their efforts are expected to focus on
verifying information provided by the Syrian authorities and the
initial planning phase of helping the country destroy its
chemical weapons production facilities," a UN statement said.
On arrival, the team set up a logistics base.
The first part of the mission is expected to last three to four
weeks, though the exact deadline will be set at the meeting with
Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, has told RT that OPCW experts
will start conducting tests on October 7.
"They will begin their tests on October 7, and by the end of
October they will most likely complete the first stage of their
work. More specifically, they will ensure that the data on the
production and storage of Syria chemical weapons provided by the
Syrian government is reliable," Churkin said.
A second group of inspectors is scheduled to join the team of
some 20 international inspectors within a week.
To complete the disarmament mission, which includes finding, dismantling and destroying Assad's estimated 1,000-ton chemical arsenal, OPCW may need around nine months.
Under an adopted UN resolution, which outlines details
of taking Syria’s chemical arsenal under international control
and its ultimate destruction, experts are empowered to conduct
‘surprise visits’ to sites, which they suspect may contain
undeclared weapons, and if so, must be granted immediate access.
In case of non-compliance the resolution calls for consequences,
but it does not allow for any automatic enforcement through
The US and its allies have been threatening Syria with military
action in response to the August-21 attack in Damascus's eastern
Ghouta suburbs, when UN experts say sarin gas was used “on a
While the US blamed Assad’s government, the Syrian regime accused
the rebels of using chemical weapons.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised “collective efforts”, which averted a “military solution”, saying global powers are "on the right track" in resolving Syrian crisis.
"It is our common achievement, the result of our collective
efforts,” the President said. "I am grateful to
colleagues, who tended towards a military solution, but agreed
with the need to apply all forces and means for a peaceful
settlement," he said, speaking at an investment conference in
Moscow on Wednesday.
Russia’s president expressed hope that if “we continue to act
in such a coordinated way”, there will be no need to use
“Of course, there is still a lot to be done and we all need to
work actively on this,” Putin said, reiterating that there
are only “two legitimate ways” to allow the use of force –
a “UN Security Council resolution” and only in response to
Shortly after the August-21 attack, Moscow suggested that
Damascus should put its chemical weapons arsenal under
international control. The Syrian government accepted the
The republic also agreed to join the Chemical Weapons Convention
which bans the production and the use of such arms.