World News

    Syria Submits Partial Chemical Weapons List

    Syria has begun supplying information about its chemical weapons program to a watchdog agency, in line with a U.S.-Russian deadline.

    The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says the Syrian government submitted a partial inventory of its chemical arsenal on Thursday.

    In a VOA interview Friday, spokesman Michael Luhan said the group expects to receive additional information by this weekend.

    He said the OPCW would not release details of what was in Syria's declaration.

    U.S. and Russian officials agreed, last Saturday, on a framework for ending Syria's chemical weapons program that included a one-week deadline for Damascus to submit a comprehensive list of such weapons.



    The plan also calls for Syria to eliminate or remove all chemical weapons material and equipment by mid-2014.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Syrian non-compliance could lead to a request for punitive action in the U.N. Kerry said Friday that he had discussed prospects for a "firm and strong" U.N. resolution with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

    Luhan said the next step for his agency was supposed to be a Sunday meeting to discuss plans regarding Syria's chemical weapons. However, he says the meeting has been postponed indefinitely.

    A U.N. report released earlier this week showed overwhelming evidence that chemical weapons were used in an attack near Damascus, last month. However, the report does not assess blame.

    The U.S. and other Western powers have said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces carried out the attack. The U.S. says the attack killed more than 1,400 people.

    A high-ranking Syrian government official said Damascus will call for a cease-fire at a proposed United Nations-backed peace conference aimed at ending the country's civil war.

    Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil told The Guardian the conflict has reached a stalemate, saying neither the government nor the rebels are strong enough to defeat each other.

    He told the British paper the Syrian government would also propose an "end to external intervention" and the start of a "peaceful political process" at the long-delayed conference in Geneva. Within hours, his own party disavowed his remarks.

    Syria's main Western-backed opposition coalition is condemning the Islamist extremists within the rebel ranks. The Syrian National Coalition says the behavior of the al-Qaida-linked fighters is "contrary to the Syrian revolution."

    The group commented in a statement on Friday, a day after Syrian rebels reached a truce with Islamist extremists following clashes for a key border town.

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seized the town of Azaz, which lies along the border with Turkey, following a battle against other Syrian opposition forces.

    Late Thursday, the two sides agreed to observe a cease-fire.

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    CN KERRY SYRIA 9/20/13
    "We walked about the cooperation which we both agreed to continue to provide moving, not only towards the adoption of the OPCW rules and regulations, but also a resolution that is firm and strong within the United Nations."

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