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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs