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Watchdog examines Syria’s disclosure on chem arsenal as Damascus meets deadline

The Hague-based chemical weapons watchdog has begun to examine the chemical arsenal report supplied by the Syrian government, which has thus met the first deadline of a US-Russia brokered deal to have the arms under international control.

The Technical Secretariat is currently reviewing the information received,” the Organization’s website says.

The news comes after the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced on Friday that it had received an initial report on the weapons from the Syrian leadership.

The document is “quite long ... and being translated," according to a UN official who spoke to Reuters on conditions of anonymity.

The White House has welcomed the news of Damascus meeting the first deadline in compliance with the US-Russian deal to dismantle the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal.

We were pleasantly surprised by the completeness of their declaration. It was better than expected,” New York Times cites the official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

However, the OPCW postponed its executive committee meeting over implementation of a US-Russia disarmament agreement for Syria, according to the watchdog’s Twitter account.

Sunday's meeting of the OPCW Executive Council in regard to Syria has been POSTPONED. A new date/time will be announced as soon as possible.

— OPCW (@OPCW) September 20, 2013

The US-Russian deal on putting Syria’s chemical weapons under international control prevented US-led military action, which had been called for by America, France and the UK after last month’s chemical attack cost the lives of anywhere between 281 and 1,729 people. The western powers put the blame for the assault on Bashar Assad’s government.

The Syrian regime is believed to have some 1,000 tons of chemical toxins.

The US-Russian deal aims at having UN inspectors on the ground no later than November, while the destruction of chemical weapons must be completed by the middle of 2014.

US Secretary John Kerry pointed out that he and Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, spoke on the telephone on Friday about formulating a “strong” UN Security Council resolution regarding the US-Russian deal.

"We talked about the cooperation which we both agreed to continue to provide, moving not only towards the adoption of the OPCW rules and regulations, but also a resolution that is firm and strong within the United Nations," Kerry indicated.

China has also called for the implementation of the US-Russian deal to destroy the stockpile.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed that they would "support the early launch of the process to destroy Syria's chemical weapons", also urging for a peace conference on the situation in Syria “as soon as possible,” AFP reported.

The Chinese leadership believes that political settlement is the only way out of the long-standing crisis, the minister underlined.

This comes as the Syrian leadership has said the Syrian civil war has reached stalemate, with neither side strong enough to win the conflict.