U.N. creates joint mission with OPCW for Syria

Oct. 17, 2013 at 12:50 PM

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- The United Nations announced it established a joint mission with a chemical weapons watchdog in The Hague to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons program.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Sigrid Kaag, a veteran from the U.N. Development Program, to serve as the envoy for a joint mission with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Ban said in a statement Wednesday the Dutch envoy would serve from a joint support base in Cyprus. The purpose of the joint mission is "to achieve the timely elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons program in the safest and most secure manner possible," a mission statement said.

The OPCW, based in The Hague, Netherlands, said Wednesday its inspectors in Syria visited 11 chemical weapons sites and destroyed "critical equipment" from six locations tied to Syria's weapons cache.

U.N. inspectors in August confirmed the nerve agent sarin was used as a weapon of war in Syria. Inspectors were not mandated to assess blame.

Ban said the progress on eliminating Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles doesn't equate to a resolution of what he said remains a very dangerous situation.

"We are equally focused on reaching a political solution that will stop the appalling violence and suffering being inflicted on the Syrian people," he said.

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