Syria wins UN praise over chemical disarmament

Syria wins UN praise over chemical disarmament
Tue Oct 8, 2013 09:10:47

A UN official from an international mission overseeing Syria’s chemical stockpile's elimination has praised Damascus for starting to destroy its toxic weapons arsenal very seriously.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Monday that Damascus had made an excellent start on Sunday, and the United States acknowledged its rapid compliance with a UN resolution on destroying chemical weapons as extremely significant.

Chemicals experts were overseeing a second day of work on Monday, which the official described as similar to Sunday's when Syrian forces used cutting torches and angle grinders to render missile warheads, bombs and mixing equipment unusable.

However, he noted that this was the start of work that is due to last until mid-2014 and requires the cooperation of all sides. "It was an excellent first day, with the stress on the word 'first'," the official told Reuters by telephone from Damascus.

"There are milestones and tests that lie ahead, and we hope and expect to have continued cooperation of all parties to pass those milestones," the official said.

The Syrian government agreed to destroy the chemical weapons after the West and its allies claimed Syrian army used sarin gas in an attack on the outskirts of Damascus that killed hundreds of people in August. Syrian has rejected the allegations and blames the foreign-backed militants fighting in Syria for the attack.

Experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), supported by the United Nations, aim to oversee destruction of the Syria's chemical weapons production and mixing equipment by November 1, and deal with all chemical weapons materials by the end of June 2014.


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