Syria chemical disarmament team begins mission
AFPDAMASCUS--International disarmament experts began Wednesday their mission to catalogue Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons under a deal that will see the arms turned over for destruction by mid-2014.
October 3, 2013, 12:11 am TWN
The 19-member team from The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrived in Damascus Tuesday to implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 2118 ordering the elimination of Syria's chemical arms.
A day earlier, Syria's opposition warned of a “humanitarian disaster” in the Damascus suburb of Moadamiyet al-Sham, one of the areas reportedly targeted in an August 21 sarin attack that killed hundreds of people.
And Syria's information minister insisted that President Bashar al-Assad would stay in office and could run for reelection next year.
Assad's departure is a key demand of the opposition, who insist it must be a pillar of a mooted Geneva peace conference.
The disarmament team includes 19 OPCW inspectors and 14 U.N. staffers who drove to a five-star Damascus hotel in a 20-vehicle U.N. convoy from Beirut.
They set up a logistics base after arriving, but it was not immediately clear when they would begin visiting sites. No movement had been seen at their hotel by early Wednesday afternoon.
“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 U.N. statement said.