AFP – Inspectors have verified all but one of Syria’s 23 declared chemical weapons sites, the world’s watchdog said Thursday, after filming a site that was difficult to access because of the war.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said that Syrian personnel had visited one of two remaining sites that they could not visit for security reasons and filmed it with “sealed cameras.”
OPCW and UN inspectors have until mid-2014 to destroy Syria’s entire chemical arsenal and production facilities under the terms of a US-Russian deal to head off military strikes on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“The verification was conducted with the support of sealed cameras used by Syrian personnel as per the inspection team?s guidance,” the Hague-based OPCW said in a statement.
“The exact geographical location and the time of capture of the footage/images were fully authenticated,” it said, adding that the site was in the region of northwestern city Aleppo, a centre of fighting against Assad’s regime.
“As per the declaration by Syria, the site was confirmed as dismantled and long abandoned with the building showing extensive battle damage,” the OPCW said.
Syria is cooperating with the disarmament operation and has already said it had approximately 1,290 tonnes of chemical weapons and agents as well as 1,230 unfilled chemical munitions, meaning shells, rockets or mortars.
Syria has already destroyed 99 warheads and is expected to destroy 55 more, with Syrian officials reportedly in The Hague facing a November 15 deadline to finalise the plan for the destruction of the chemical arsenal.
Destruction of Syria’s declared chemical weapons production facilities has been completed, and all chemicals and precursors placed under seal, the OPCW said last week ahead of a November 1 deadline that it laid down and was backed by the UN Security Council resolution.
The resolution was agreed by the US and Russia to avert military strikes on Syria after deadly chemical weapons attacks outside Damascus in August, which the West blamed on Assad’s regime.
The OPCW, based in The Hague, was this year’s recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Its Executive Council will use the Syrian declaration to decide by November 15 on “destruction milestones” for Syria’s arsenal.
Syria has also sent in a declaration of its chemical weapons activities and facilities, meeting its obligations as a new state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.