US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday lauded Syria's "compliance" with a UN resolution calling for the destruction of its chemical arsenal, saying it was a "credit" to the regime that it moved quickly to eliminate the banned weapons.
The United States lauded Syria's "compliance" with a UN resolution calling for the destruction of its chemical arsenal on Monday, with US Secretary of State John Kerry saying it was a "credit" to the Damascus regime that it moved quickly to eliminate the banned weapons.
"The process has begun in record time and we are appreciative for the Russian cooperation and obviously for the Syrian compliance," Kerry told reporters alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Indonesia.
"I think it's a credit to the Assad regime, frankly," he said. "It's a good beginning and we welcome a good beginning."
US welcomes Syrian progress
UN experts began destroying Syria's missile warheads and aerial bombs in accordance with the resolution on Sunday. The operation is being performed by Syrian personnel under the supervision of international disarmament experts.
"I think it's extremely significant that yesterday, Sunday, within a week of the resolution being passed, some chemical weapons were being destroyed," Kerry said.
Syria agreed to give up its chemical arsenal after a UN resolution was passed on September 27 that enshrined an agreement struck between Washington and Moscow aimed at averting US military action.
Under the plan, Syria's chemical weapons mixing and production facilities must be destroyed by November 1.
On Sunday, a statement released by the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said workers "used cutting torches and angle grinders to destroy or disable a range of items".
SYRIA'S CHEMICAL WEAPONS
- Lebanon army takes ‘a third of territory’ from IS group on Syria border
- Lebanese army launches offensive against IS group on Syria border
- Syrian activist who fled to France dies aged 44
- US-backed Syrian fighters win strategic victory near Raqqa
- Contaminated egg scandal sparks fear in France
- UN Syria investigator quits over lack of 'political will'
- Syria army ‘takes last IS-group held town in Homs’
- Neymar's leaving Barcelona: 'Bon Voyage' or 'Good Riddance?'
- What role should the US play in the Middle East and North Africa?
- Interpol circulates list of 173 IS group suspects
- Hezbollah and Syrian army advance in border offensive
- Exclusive: IS group's armoured drones attack from the skies in battle for Raqqa
- In shift to ‘realpolitik’, Macron drops French calls to oust Assad
- Macron dials back ‘Assad must go’ position
- Exclusive: Supplying frontline positions under fire in the Raqqa battle
- Opposition Syrian National Coalition names new PM
- Obama says US ‘prepared to act’ if Syria deal fails
- US, Russia reach deal on Syria's chemical arms
- UN chief ‘sceptical’ of Assad chemical arms claims
- Syria reportedly scattering its chemical arms
- The challenge of dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons
The Syrian workers were destroying or disabling a "range of items", including "missile warheads, aerial bombs and mixing and filling equipment", the statement added.
The team faces the daunting task of disposing of an estimated 1,000 tonnes of the nerve agent sarin, mustard gas and other banned arms at dozens of sites in Syria by mid-2014.
International disarmament experts, who arrived on Tuesday, were also "monitoring, verifying and reporting" whether Assad's government provided accurate information on its chemical stockpiles.
As the operation got under way, Assad admitted in an interview that his government had made "mistakes" in the country's brutal conflict.
F24 INTERVIEW: BAN KI-MOON
The assault led to threats of a US strike and eventually the UN resolution requiring Syria to turn over its arsenal.
The OPCW has said other methods to render Syria's production facilities unusable could include explosives, sledgehammers or pouring concrete.
UN leader Ban Ki-moon is expected to send a report to the Security Council on Monday setting out in more detail the logistics of what is considered one of the biggest and most dangerous disarmament operations ever staged because the Syria war is still raging.
Assad insisted his government was being "very transparent" with the UN-OPCW team.
"The experts can go to every site. They are going to get all the data from us, they will verify them, and then they can make a judgement about our credibility," he told Germany's "Spiegel" magazine.
But he also acknowledged that mistakes had been made in responding to the uprising that took the form of peaceful protests when it began in March 2011 before escalating into a civil war after a brutal crackdown by government forces.
More than 115,000 people have since been killed, activists say. Two million people have become refugees and millions more have been displaced inside Syria.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-10-07