Syria hands over initial chemical weapons inventory

Sept. 20, 2013 at 10:57 AM
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- The Syrian government sent an initial disclosure of its chemical weapons stockpile to The Hague, a weapons monitoring group confirmed Friday.

The U.S. and Russian governments brokered a deal that calls for weapons inspectors in Syria. A U.N. report published this week said the chemical nerve agent sarin was used in an August attack on a suburb in Damascus, though inspectors were not mandated to assess blame.

Washington and its allies say the government of President Bashar Assad is responsible for the attack, an assertion challenged by the Kremlin.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in The Hague, Netherlands, said Friday it started receiving weapons declarations from the Syrian government.

"The OPCW has received an initial disclosure from the Syrian government of its chemical weapons program, which is now being examined by the technical secretariat of the organization," it said in a statement.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said chemical weapons were used "on a relatively large scale" in August and were delivered by surface-to-surface rockets.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said during a Thursday press conference the international community was called on to "speak out in the strongest terms" about the importance of the action needed to rid Syria of its chemical weapons stockpiles.

The OPCW confirmed Syria would become the 190th member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in October. The weapons monitoring group said Monday the Syrian government will provide a "complete inventory of its chemical weapons" programs "on an expeditious basis."

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