Chemical experts start securing Syria sites: Statement
Damascus: Experts overseeing the destruction of Syria`s chemical arsenal have begun securing their work sites, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the UN said in a statement.
"Joint work with the Syrian authorities has begun on securing the sites where the team will operate," said the statement, which detailed the activities of the team`s first day of work yesterday.
"In addition, planning continues for one of the team`s immediate tasks, disabling Syria`s chemical weapons production facilities, which should begin soon."
The OPCW team of 19 disarmament experts arrived in Damascus on Tuesday.
They are overseeing the implementation of a UN resolution which orders Syria`s chemical arsenal destroyed.
Resolution 2118 was passed after gas attacks on the outskirts of Damascus killed hundreds of people on August 21, an atrocity that prompted the United States to threaten military strikes on Syria.
The OPCW team faces a daunting task, as President Bashar al-Assad`s regime is understood to have more than 1,000 tonnes of the nerve agent sarin, mustard gas and other banned chemical weapons.
Yesterday, the team also considered "the health and environmental hazards which they may have to confront", said the joint statement.
"Meanwhile, discussions on the size of Syria`s stockpiles are also under way, as well as long-term planning, so that deadlines unanimously imposed by the executive council of the OPCW and the UN Security Council are met," it added.
Under Resolution 2118, Syria`s chemical arsenal should be destroyed by mid-2014.
"In their discussions with the authorities, the OPCW-UN team was keen to stress that the onus was on the Syrian government to meet the verification and destruction deadlines," said the statement.
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