News / Middle East

Syria Meets Weapons Deadline, Inspectors Say

FILE - 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.
FILE - 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.
VOA News
The international watchdog overseeing Syria's destruction of its chemical weapons program says the country has met a deadline to destroy equipment used to make the arms.

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
​Michael Luhan, spokesman for the  the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said the Assad government has cooperated with the internationally-imposed deadline.

“We consider that this first stage of verifying Syria's initial declaration of its chemical weapons program and verifying Syria's destruction of its production- making facilities in mixing and filling plants that that has all been achieved," Luhan said Thursday.

The Syrian government had until Friday to complete that step of an agreement that now calls for Syria to detail how it will destroy its chemical weapons stockpile by the middle of next year.  That plan is due by November 15.

There were two sites inspectors deemed too risky to visit, said Luhan.  The Syrian government, he said, gave them evidence that manufacturing equipment from those sites had been moved to another site inspectors had visited.

"Those sites were visited by our inspectors and relevant chemical weapons production equipment was functionally destroyed under our verification," Luhan said.

According to Luhan, the next step will be to destroy the chemicals and binary agents that are in Syria's existing weapons stockpile of around 1,000 tons.

“Our inspectors placed tamper-proof seals on all of these materials...They're under international control and can't be tampered with without us knowing immediately.”

Refugees

Also Thursday, rights group Amnesty International issued a report calling on Syria's neighbors, particularly Jordan, to ensure that refugees can freely enter those countries and not be forcibly sent back to Syria.

The group highlighted efforts surrounding countries have made to accommodate the more than two million people forced to flee the fighting Syria and the immense strain that has created on providing services.  But Amnesty says Jordan is placing "undue restrictions" on who can enter the country.

The report calls on the international community to provide financial aid and technical support to nations hosting Syrian refugees, and to offer increased opportunities for refugees to resettle abroad.

UN envoy visit

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on Oct. 30, 2013, shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) and Ministers meeting with U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (2ndR) in Damascus.A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on Oct. 30, 2013, shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) and Ministers meeting with U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (2ndR) in Damascus.
x
A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on Oct. 30, 2013, shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) and Ministers meeting with U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (2ndR) in Damascus.
A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on Oct. 30, 2013, shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) and Ministers meeting with U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (2ndR) in Damascus.
Meanwhile, U.N.-Arab league envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is continuing his visit to Syria with meetings Thursday and Friday with opposition and women's groups.  He will then travel to Lebanon for talks with officials there as he tries to build support for the so-called "Geneva 2" peace talks.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned him Wednesday after the two met in Damascus that the proposed peace conference can only succeed if other countries end their support for rebel groups.

Brahimi is due to meet with U.S. and Russian officials in Geneva next week to discuss where preparations for the talks stand.

The United States and Russia have been pushing for those talks to take place in November.  Syria's rebels and opposition groups have yet to commit to any talks, rejecting any process that does not remove Assad from power.

Related story on U.S. reaction by Michael Bowman:

US Welcomes Chemical Weapons Milestone in Syriai
X
October 31, 2013 9:21 PM
U.S. officials and members of Congress are welcoming reports of progress in dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons program. But as VOA Senate correspondent Michael Bowman reports, lawmakers of both political parties have growing concerns about the ultimate outcome of Syria’s bloody civil war.


Obstacles

American University International Relations Professor Robert Pastor says such distrust is just one of the many issues diplomats will have to overcome for peace talks to have any chance.

"The most important is how do you get all the key parties to the table?  What preconditions do you set or what preconditions do you eliminate? If you have one precondition that Assad cannot either participate in any form nor can his government nor can he participate in an electoral process then this is a recipe for failure," Pastor said.

Pastor said in an interview the United States will likely also have to find ways to make any "Geneva 2" talks more inclusive.

"You have to find a way to get Assad there.  You have to find space for both the Russians and the Iranians to feel they have a place at the table and they have a stake in the process and the outcome," he said.

More than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since March 2011 while millions more have been forced to flee their homes.

Edward Yernanian contributed to this report from Cairo.

You May Like

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Stehling from: NYC
October 31, 2013 6:10 PM
It is assumed that the OPCW Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons having destroyed the manufacturing facilities for Sarin nerve gas in Syria will now turn its attention to Israel and any other Middle East state with chemical WMD.

by: tHE MAtRIx from: USA
October 31, 2013 1:17 PM
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a pysop message, mind control message, from the architects of THE MATRIX: EVERYTHING IS OK.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
October 31, 2013 8:54 AM
This looked fantastic on the face value, but no one will vouch for its sincerity. Syria simply has to rebuild immediately the inspectors and destroyers leave the borders of the country. What has been destroyed is the physical equipment, the know-how is still with Assad and his regime. Again no one is sure there is no hidden site that the OPCW cannot immediate know about. However, we can say kudos to the group for job well done so far. If same effort will be put in to ensure all such weapons of mass destruction are found and destroyed, the region might breath some relief from another deadly ally of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood that wants nothing but totalitarian islamist rule in the Middle East. We hear the real issue of destroying the weapons will take more than a year. No matter how long it takes, let the job start. Just ensure that a good, thorough job of it is done to ensure total safety from its threat.

What is Jordan's reason for placing obstacles in the way of refugees seeking safety in the country? Is Jordan trying to ensure hardline islamists don't enter the country? Is it restricting influx based on religious faith? Is the aid supply an issue here? We are not told its reason here, but we can only say Jordan should consider lives involved in the conflict, to save lives first should be the priority here. If there be further reason than can be managed, restrictions can be placed at refugee camps pending relocation of persons that might prove difficult to manage to other places. If criminals are suspected, such should be handed over to security operatives and interpol. A restriction to people fleeing conflict zone is itself a crime against humanity.
In Response

by: Mr. Donkey from: D.C.
November 01, 2013 12:34 AM
And that will start with the CIA, whom is arming, funding, running, and training Al Qaeda. Start with that.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs