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Middle east

Syria submits chemical weapons destruction plan

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-10-27

Syria has submitted an initial plan for destroying its chemical weapons arsenal to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons three days ahead of an agreed deadline, the international watchdog agency said on Sunday.

Syria has submitted details of its chemical weapons arsenal and an initial plan to destroy it to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international watchdog said Sunday.

The Hague-based body said it received the plan from Syrian officials on Thursday, three days ahead of the deadline set out by the organisation earlier this year.

“On 24 October 2013, the Syrian Arab Republic submitted to the OPCW its formal initial declaration covering its chemical weapons programme,” said the OPCW in a written statement.

“The document from Syria includes a general plan of destruction for consideration by the OPCW Executive Council.”

The OPCW, which won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, said the document would help provide the basis for “a systematic, total and verified destruction of declared chemical weapons and production facilities”.

Norway turns down chemical weapons request

Syria had already given preliminary details of its chemical weapons stockpiles to the OPCW when it agreed to join the organisation as part of a US-Russian deal adopted in a UN resolution in September.

The agreement, which sets a target date of mid-2014 for the destruction of Syria’s entire chemical weapons arsenal, warded off possible US-led military strikes against Damascus in response to an August 21 sarin nerve gas attack, which Washington alleges was carried out by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

OPCW inspectors were dispatched to Syria at the start of October with the task of inventorying the country's banned chemical weapons and laying the groundwork for their destruction.

However, it has not yet been decided how or where the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons will happen.

Norway's foreign minister announced Friday that the country had turned down a US request to receive the bulk of Syria's chemical weapons for destruction because it doesn't have the capabilities to complete the task by the suggested deadline.

Syria is believed to possess around 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, including mustard gas and sarin.

Fighting continues

Meanwhile, fighting in Syria’s 31-month conflict, which has already claimed an estimated 115,000 lives, continued on Sunday.

In the central province of Homs, battles pitted rebels against regime troops as opposition fighters pushed to take over major weapons depots in the area.

In Sadad – a Christian town in the province whose strategic location near the main highway north from Damascus has made it the scene of intense fighting – shelling killed two men and three women from the same family.

Also Sunday, Syrian Kurdish gunmen clashed with al Qaeda-linked groups to cement their control of a major border crossing with Iraq.

The Kurdish militiamen captured the Yaaroubiyeh post in northeast Syria on Saturday after three days of clashes with several jihadist groups, but were fighting pockets of rebels in southern Yaaroubiyeh, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-10-27

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