A team of international experts began the process of dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons and production facilities on Sunday, a source in the mission told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The source said members of the team, which consists of experts from the U.N. and from The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), “have left for a site where they are beginning verification and destruction,” AFP reported.
“Today is the first day of destruction, in which heavy vehicles are going to run over and thus destroy missile warheads, aerial chemical bombs and mobile and static mixing and filling units,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.
An official from the OPCW said earlier that the use of explosives, sledgehammers, or pouring in concrete are methods that could be used to make Syria’s production facilities unusable.
The team of experts arrived in Damascus last Tuesday to begin verifying details of the program that were handed over by the Syrian government.
“Phase one which is disclosure by the Syrians is ending and we are now moving towards phase two, verification and destruction and disabling,” the mission source said.
The technical groups will focus on three tasks, the verification of the information handed over by the Syrian government, the safety and security of the inspection teams, and practical arrangements for implementing the work plan, according to Reuters.
The Syrian regime has so far complied with the deal made by Russia and the U.S. after an August 21 chemical weapons attack in Damascus, which Washington blamed on Syrian government forces.
The deal stipulates that the regime’s stockpile be dismantled by mid-2014 and the U.N. mission is expected to continue until then.
The OPCW has received documents from the Syrian regime detailing its arsenal, which is believed to include more than 1,000 tons of sarin, mustard gas and other banned chemicals stored at an estimated 45 sites.
Source: AFP; Reuters