Syria Chemical Inspections Completed: OPCW
“We have done nearly 50 percent of the verification work of the facilities that have been declared to us,” Malik Ellahi, OPCW’s special advisor on Syria, told reporters in The Hague on Thursday.
Ellahi stressed that the security situation has remained a concern for the joint OPCW-UN mission, but “the team so far has had the cooperation of the Syrian authorities and managed to conduct its work unimpeded.”
The Hague-based organization said in a statement on Wednesday that inspectors had verified 11 out of 20 sites identified by the Syrian government and destroyed chemical weapons equipment at six sites.
Experts have been making “good progress” in making chemical sites “inoperable”, but some sites were inaccessible due to security situations, Ellahi said.
Some 60 OPCW and UN experts and support staff are in Syria to implement a UN resolution on scrapping the Syrian chemical arsenal. The United Nations Security Council approved the resolution on September 27.
The team has until November 1 to inspect the chemical weapons arsenal declared by the Syrian government and supervise the destruction of the related facilities.
“If some sites remain inaccessible by the time some of the timelines are upon us, this will be reported in a very objective manner to the (OPCW’s) Executive Council,” Ellahi also said.
“I am sure the council will take into account the circumstances and provide guidance as how we will move forward,” he added.
On September 14, Russia and the United States agreed on a deal according to which Syria would have its chemical weapons stockpiles eliminated and the US would in return not carry out planned strikes on the Middle Eastern country.
The agreement came after days of mounted war rhetoric against Syria by the US and some of its allies, which blamed Damascus for a fatal chemical attack on the outskirts of the Syrian capital on August 21.
Damascus has vehemently denied the accusations, saying the attack was carried out by the militants operating inside the country as a false-flag operation.