Chemical weapons watchdog to send more inspectors to Syria

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 08, 2013 9:18 AM
Chemical weapons watchdog to send more inspectors to Syria

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The global chemical weapons watchdog said on Tuesday it would send more inspectors to Syria to help destroy President Bashar al-Assad's stockpile of toxic munitions.

Assad's government, fighting a civil war in which more than 100,000 people have died, agreed to destroy the arms after a sarin gas attack on the outskirts of Damascus killed hundreds of people in August.

The head of the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumcu, said in a statement Syria had made "a constructive beginning for what will nonetheless be a long and difficult process".

The OPCW sent in its first team of inspectors to verify a declaration of chemical weapons Syria submitted to the organisation last month.

The list is confidential, but Western intelligence agencies have said they believe Syria possess 1,000 metric tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve gas.

Syria has been given until November to destroy production facilities and weapons-filling equipment. It began that process in the past last week, the OPCW said.

It did not say how many extra inspectors it would send to oversee destruction of Syria's entire chemical arsenal, a task which is supposed to be completed by the end of June 2014.

(Reporting By Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Andrew Heavens)