Syria crisis: Chemical weapons watchdog OPCW urges truce


Ahmet Uzumcu wants a "permissible environment" for his inspectors

The global chemical weapons watchdog has called for a ceasefire in Syria to enable it to destroy the stockpiles.

The organisation's chief, Ahmet Uzumcu, said the deadline for destroying equipment was "extremely tight", but was possible if truces were agreed.

Some early work of the inspectors was disrupted when they came under fire.

Under a UN resolution, Syria's chemical weapons production equipment must be destroyed by 1 November and stockpiles must be disposed of by mid-2014.

"If some temporary ceasefires can be established, I think those targets could be reached," said Mr Uzumcu, head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

He told reporters in The Hague that Syrian authorities had so far been co-operative.

He said the inspectors had 20 sites to visit in the coming weeks and had so far completed inspections at one facility.

An inspections team came under sniper fire on 26 August, but there have been no reported attacks on inspectors since.

Syria's chemical weapons

  • Syria believed to possess 1,000 tonnes of chemical agents including sarin and more potent nerve agent VX
  • US believes arsenal can be "delivered by aircraft, ballistic missile, and artillery rockets"
  • Syria acceded to Chemical Weapons Convention on 14 September; it signed Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in 1972 but never ratified it

The OPCW, mandated under the UN resolution, earlier said it would send a second team to Syria to help meet the deadlines.

Meanwhile, the conflict in Syria continues to rage:

  • Activists say they have taken over a border post on the frontier with Jordan, and a gun-battle in the northern city of Aleppo left at least 10 soldiers dead
  • Two Israeli soldiers in the Golan Heights suffered "light injuries" from mortar shells fired from Syria, the Israeli army says
  • France breaks a news blackout to reveal that two journalists have been held in Syria since June, bringing the total number of French reporters held to four.

Some 100,000 people have been killed since the start of the two-year conflict, in which armed opposition groups are seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

Chemical weapons are responsible for a comparatively small number of those deaths, and rebels have warned that destroying the weapons will not end the war.

An image grab taken from Syrian television shows an inspector at work at an undisclosed location in Syria on 8 October Syrian state TV has shown images of weapons inspectors at work

On Sunday, members of the joint OPCW-UN mission observed Syrian staff using cutting torches and angle-grinders to destroy missile warheads, aerial bombs, and mixing equipment.

Dismantling work is continuing at undisclosed locations all week.

The diplomacy that led to the disarmament deal was sparked by a poison-gas attack on 21 August in which hundreds were killed.

Western nations blamed forces loyal to President Assad, but he blamed rebel fighters.

The UN estimates that by the end of 2014 more than eight million Syrians could have been forced from their homes, and the number of refugees outside Syria could hit 5.2 million.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    54: I get news from primary sources, not silly internet gossip.

    Are you claiming the 21 Aug 2013 attack was not by the Syrian government?! The actual UN report says otherwise:

    The "most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them" in 1988 in Halabja.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    58 Disarming the regime is key to peace in Syria.
    Yes, because the rebel forces are unified and ready for government and there are no outside forces wanting to interfere. The violence will stop the second the regime gives in.
    They can have Santa Claus as Foreign minister and the Easter Bunny can be Chancellor. All the roads will be paved with gold and there'll be butterscones for tea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    @57 Internet Opinion

    I suggest you have a little read about Islam, the religion of peace and not the information you get from the EDL website.. What a generalisation of an entire religion? What about the fact that Christians were given the right by the Pope to go to America, the Caribbean and anywhere else and install Christianity and claim lands all in the name of God.. are they cancerous too?

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Russia should put troops on the ground to support Assad.
    Not only will it help eradicate all the terrorist activity it would also help prevent Obama from interfering with yet another middle eastern country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Every western power needs to revoke their recognition of the Free Syria Movement as a legitimate opposition.
    It's so full of extremists, and piggy backing so many insurgents and terrorists that it is Unrecognizable compared to what we thought was legitimate 2 years ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Why the West wants to impose Islamist Governments on Countries beggars belief. Look at Egypt, Tunisia and now Turkey, they spread like a Virus, hard to remove. The Syrian Rebels or so called Freedom Fighters have now shown who they support, an Islamist State based on Sharia Law. We in the West look similar to the ancient Romans who did nothing to save Constantinoble from Islam. God help Syria.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    When Assad Regime chemical weapons are confiscated & destroyed it is then time to confiscate Assad Regime conventional weapons as well. The Russian made bombs, shells, rockets and bullets that do most of the killing. Disarming the regime is key to peace in Syria.

    Final act is to confiscate huge pile of stolen money that Assad has horded away in Moscow & Hongkong, returned to the Syrian people

  • Comment number 57.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    47. Sam D
    Why can't we get a UN backed agreement to enforce a ceasefire against the terrorists
    Who's going to enforce it? Magic Fairies in blue berets waving wands. I was a UN peacekeeper (Bosnia) and its damned near impossible to stop this sort of thing without overwhelming force.

    It takes BOTH sides to maintain a ceasefire too BTW. What do you propose doing against Syrian breaches?

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Wish the Russians would up their delivery of weapons to Assad so he can wipe out this terrorist scum for good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    31.Stephen Marsh
    Where do you get your news?
    All proof shoiws that the rebels used chemical weapons in 2012 & again in May 2013. A UN report is freely available.
    The fact that these weapons were supplied bu UK-USA was not good for propaganda. Therefore the new focus is on Syria's legitimate arsenal (which has same as UK except no nukes) UK-USA don't know what side to be on & get it wrong

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    There are now three groups involved in the Syrian civil war
    1) The Syrian Government (aided by Russia to some extent)
    2) The Free Syria movement (Syrian people)
    3) The Jihadi - Al Qaedi "Rebel" groups (aided by S. Arabia & Western governments)

    The Free Syria movement is what we should be supporting but unfortunately they are being smashed by both the Government & Jihadi Rebel groups.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Let's hope for the sake of humanity that they get the ceasefire they want, if a ceasefire is possible then perhaps a political solution is too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    That would serve Putin and his policy very well by preserving the Meditteranean access out of foreign control.Anyway the situation in Syria needs much more than this action,an intervention is required

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    British criminals loot, riot and kill - vermin.

    Syrian criminals loot, riot and kill - freedom fighters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    There's no harm in asking.

    The chances of a cease fire are slim to none, though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Assad has done everything Cameron and Obama asked of him with regards to CW. But i don't think its fair that he should sit back and watch rebels take his country so if the Chemical Weapons Watchdog want a ceasefire then the west should stop arming them

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Why can't the western world accept that Syria has a terrorist problem? Why does Kenya have one but Syria doesn't? Why can't we get a UN backed agreement to enforce a ceasefire against the terrorists if they won't comply? Oh I forgot because the USA want regime change to get rid of ally of Iran's...

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Pathetic. The UN created today's environment by allowing the West armament of a small extremist group. Remember, Syrian rebels don't share the opinion of the millions of outcast Syrians seeking aid, they were funded to create instability.

    How dare 'the West' take any moral high-ground and special safety measures in the savaged environment which they created. Pathetic, greedy governments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    it would surprise me not in the least if it is not the case that the CIA is quietly funding and arming Sufi,Sunni and Shia and setting them upon each other.
    If it looks like they might make peace, just bomb another market.


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