Experts begin destroying Syria chemical weapons

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A team of international disarmament inspectors has started the process of destroying Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons and the machinery used to produce them. A UN official, who works alongside the members of the team from the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said a combination of both weapons and some production equipment would be put out of order by the end of Sunday. "Today is the first day of the phase of destruction and disabling. Verification will also continue," the official said on condition of anonymity, adding, "The plan was that two categories of materials would be destroyed: one is equipment for making (weapons) - filling and mixing equipment, some of it mobile, and some it static. The other is actual munitions." The team of inspectors arrived in Damascus on October 1 to verify details of the arsenal turned over by the Syrian government. The team is in Syria under the terms of a UN resolution that the Security Council unanimously passed on September 27, and requires Syria to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile. Under the document, the council "decides, in the event of noncompliance with this resolution, including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in the Syrian Arab Republic, to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter." The UN resolution enshrined a US-Russian agreement for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons for destruction. The US-Russia deal was hammered out in the wake of the chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21. The foreign-backed Syria opposition claimed that over a thousand people were killed in the attack, and pinned the blame on the Damascus government. Damascus has repeatedly said the deadly attack was a false-flag operation carried out by the Takfiri groups in a bid to draw in foreign military intervention. Syria has been gripped by deadly turmoil since 2011. According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the violence. Reports indicate that the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside the country.

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