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September 27, 2013

UN Approves Resolution on Syria Disarmament

by VOA News

The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that requires Syria to eliminate its arsenal of chemical weapons.  The resolution places binding obligations on the nation.

The vote late Friday by the 15-member council ended weeks of intense diplomacy between Russia and the United States.  It is based on a deal between the two countries reached in Geneva earlier this month following a sarin nerve gas attack on a Damascus suburb that killed hundreds.

The U.S.-Russia deal averted punitive U.S. military action against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which Washington blamed for the August attack

The decision comes after the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons approved a plan that outlines the timeline for cataloging and ultimately destroying Syria's chemical weapons.

Earlier Friday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told VOA Syria will support the resolution "as long as it is according to our commitment when we joined the agreement."  He said the Syrian government is "seriously committed to fulfill[ing] our obligations."

On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama called the resolution a "huge victory" for the international community.  He said it is a "legally binding" and "verifiable" initiative that threatens consequences if Syria does not adhere to conditions.

The resolution calls for inspections within 30 days at all chemical weapons sites declared by Syria's government.  International experts are supposed to begin inspecting Syria's chemical arsenal by Tuesday.

The resolution also requires Assad to give up his chemical weapons by mid-2014.

In violence Friday, activists said a car bomb killed at least 30 people and wounded dozens in the town of Rankus, just north of Damascus.  Rankus is a Sunni town in a region mostly under control of rebels trying to overthrow Assad's government.

The conflict in Syria has killed more than 100,000 people.