Thursday, 31 October 2013
Syria chemical weapons equipment destroyed, says OPCW
Syria's declared equipment for producing, mixing and filling chemical weapons has been destroyed, the international watchdog says.
This comes a day before the deadline set by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The weapons have been placed under seal, an OPCW spokesman said.
Inspectors were sent to Syria following allegations, denied by the government, that its forces had used chemical weapons in civilian areas.
The inspections were agreed between Russia and the US after Washington threatened to use force in Syria.
Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told the BBC's Lyse Doucet that it had not been difficult for Syria's government to meet its obligations, as some had initially feared.
"I hope those who have always thought of us negatively will change their minds and understand that Syria was, is, and will be always a constructive partner," Mr Mekdad told our correspondent.
Now that the equipment has been put beyond use, Syria has until mid-2014 to destroy the chemical weapons themselves.
In Washington, US state department official Thomas Countryman said: "I am increasingly confident that we will be able to complete this task... within the target date of 30 June of next year".
Mr Countryman, the assistant secretary for international security and non-proliferation, told US lawmakers that "our target dates are ambitious but they are achievable".
Syria's arsenal is believed to include more than 1,000 tonnes of the nerve gas sarin, the blister agent sulphur mustard and other banned chemicals, stored at dozens of sites.
In a separate development, a large explosion at a Syrian army base has been reported outside the coastal city of Latakia.
A White House official said Israeli warplanes carried out the attack overnight, but he provided no details, the Associated Press news agency reports.Continued
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