The team of experts from the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons(OPCW), who are currently in Syria, are continuing their mission to eliminate Syrian chemical weapons.
The group, which began work October 6, says some facilities that were used to operate chemical weapons have been already disabled. Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recommended on Monday that the number of international experts be increased to about 100 and that they stay in Syria for up to a year. If the UN chief’s offer is approved, more scientists, logistics and security experts would be sent to Syria and the mission would have its headquarters in the capital, Damascus, with another base in Cyprus. Ban also said the “mission will be expected to support, monitor and verify the destruction of a complex chemical weapons program involving multiple sites spread over a country engulfed in violent conflict.” “My two highest priorities are the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons program and the safety and security of joint mission personnel, who have volunteered to perform this vital but dangerous task,” Ban stated. The team has until November 1 to inspect the chemical weapons arsenals declared by the Syrian government and supervise the destruction of the related facilities. On September 14, Russia and the United States agreed on a deal, based on 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 United States and some of its allies, which blamed Damascus for a fatal chemical attack on the outskirts of the Syrian capital on August 21. Damascus rejected the accusation that it was behind the gas attack.