News / Middle East

    International Weapons Experts En Route to Syria

    • A U.N. convoy carries experts charged with starting the process of verifying and eliminating chemical weapons to a hotel in Damascus, Oct. 1, 2013.
    • A convoy of inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons prepares cross into Syria at the Lebanese border crossing point of Masnaa, Oct. 1, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter reacts as his fellow fighter aims his weapon during what activists said were clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Deir al-Zor, Oct. 1, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army commander reacts while taking cover inside a house during what activists said were clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Deir al-Zor, Oct. 1, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters rest in Sheikh Maksoud, Aleppo Oct. 1, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he runs to avoid snipers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo, Oct. 1, 2013.
    • Damaged graves are pictured at a cemetery in Duma neighborhood in Damascus, Oct. 1, 2013.
    • Children walk through damaged streets as they go to school in the Duma neighbourhood in Damascus, Sept. 29, 2013.
    • A destroyed building is seen in Telata village in Idlib province, Sept. 29, 2013.
    Developments in Syria
    VOA News
    An advance group of weapons inspectors who will oversee Syria's destruction of its chemical arms has arrived in Beirut en route to Damascus.
     
    The 20 experts from The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will travel to Syria on Tuesday to help President Bashar al-Assad's government meet a November 1 deadline to scrap its ability to manufacture such arms.

    The destruction of Syria's existing stockpiles is to be completed by mid-2014.

    Meanwhile, a U.N. team of inspectors charged with investigating alleged chemical attack sites concluded its nearly week-long mission in Syria and headed to Lebanon. The U.N. said Friday the team was to investigate a total of seven locations.
     
    The group initially visited Syria last month to investigate three alleged chemical attacks earlier this year. But just days into the visit, the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta was hit by a chemical weapons attack, and the inspectors turned their attention to that case.

    The inquiry determined that the nerve agent sarin was used in the August 21 attack, but did not assess who was behind it.

    Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Monday his government will fully comply with the U.N. Security Council resolution passed last week to have Syria dismantle its chemical weapons program.

    He also told the United Nations General Assembly the international community should create a nuclear-free zone throughout the Middle East.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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