News Middle East

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Syria reveals chemical weapons haul to watchdog

Mike Corder and Diaa Hadid The Hague

Published 28/10/2013 | 01:55

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Syria has filed details of its poison gas and nerve agent programme and an initial plan to destroy it to the world's chemical weapons watchdog.

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The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement that Syria completed its declaration as part of a strict timeline that aims to eliminate the lethal stockpile by mid-2014.

The group, based in The Hague in the Netherlands, said Syria made the declaration on Thursday.

The announcement provides "the basis on which plans are devised for a systematic, total and verified destruction of declared chemical weapons and production facilities," the group said.

Such declarations made to the organisation are confidential. No details of Syria's programme were released.

Syria already had given preliminary details to the OPCW when it declared it was joining the organisation in September. The move warded off possible US military strikes in the aftermath of an August 21 chemical weapon attack on a Damascus suburb. Syria denies responsibility.

OPCW inspectors were hastily dispatched to Syria this month and have visited most of the 23 sites Damascus declared. Syria is believed to possess around 1,000 metric tonnes of chemical weapons, including mustard gas and sarin. It has not yet been decided how or where destruction of Syria's chemical weapons will happen.

The announcement came among renewed fighting in Syria. Al-Qa'ida-linked rebels battled government troops for control of the Christian town of Sadad.

The rebels appear to have targeted Sadad because of its strategic location near the main highway north from Damascus rather than because it is inhabited primarily by Christians.

In Lebanon, two people were killed by sniper fire during fighting between rival sects in the northern city of Tripoli. At least nine people have been killed since clashes spilled over from neighbouring Syria last week, security officials said.

Irish Independent

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