Middle East

Syria hands in chemical weapons destruction plan

An image grab taken from Syrian television shows inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at work at an undisclosed location in Syria on 10 October 2013
Image caption Syrian state TV has shown images of weapons inspectors at work

Syria has handed in a plan for the destruction of its chemical weapons to the watchdog monitoring the process.

In a statement, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons (OPCW) said the declaration was submitted three days ahead of schedule.

OPCW inspectors are also due to complete visiting the last four of 23 weapons sites declared by Syria.

The OPCW's mission was set up following outrage at a chemical weapons attack near the Syrian capital in August.

Sixty inspectors have been in Syria since 1 October. The OPCW, which is based in The Hague, said on Friday that its team in Syria had visited 19 of the 23 sites disclosed by Syria.

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

The organisation's work in Syria marks the first time the international chemical weapons watchdog - which won this year's Nobel Peace Prize - has been asked to oversee the destruction of a weapons armoury during a conflict.

More than 100,000 people have been killed in the fighting that has ravaged Syria for two-and-a-half years, according to the UN.

More than two million people have fled Syria and some 4.5 million have been forced from their homes within the country.

Image caption The UN confirmed that the nerve agent sarin was used in an attack on the Ghouta agricultural belt

Casualty figures vary for the chemical weapons attack on the Ghouta agricultural belt around Syria's capital, Damascus, on 21 August.

It was estimated to have killed hundreds of people. The United States and other Western powers blamed the attack on President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

But Mr Assad accuses Syrian rebels of being behind it.

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