Damascus (AFP) – A chemical weapons disarmament team arrived in Damascus on Tuesday to begin evaluating the country’s arsenal of the banned weapons, an AFP correspondent said.
The 20-member team travelled to Syria to begin an inspection mission before the arms are turned over for destruction under UN Security Council resolution 2118 adopted last week.
The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is overseeing the implementation of the UN resolution, which enshrines a deal agreed between the United States and Russia.
The team traveled by road from Beirut to Damascus, in a 20-vehicle UN convoy that drove up to the Four Seasons hotel, an AFP photographer said. They had arrived Monday in Lebanon.
The organization has received documents from the Syrian regime detailing its arsenal, which is believed to include more than 1,000 tons of sarin, mustard gas and other banned chemicals stored at an estimated 45 sites.
The U.S.-Russian deal was worked out after an August 21 chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus, which reportedly killed hundreds of people.
The United States blamed the regime for the attack, and threatened to carry out punitive military action, although any attack was put on hold after the U.S.-Russian deal was agreed.
The regime denies responsibility and accuses the rebels seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons in that attack and several others.
On Monday, a separate team of UN inspectors left Syria after a mission to investigate the August 21 attack and a series of other alleged instances of use of the banned weapons.
It has already confirmed in a preliminary report that sarin was used during the August 21 attack that occurred during its first mission to Syria.
It has said it aims to produce a complete report on seven alleged attacks by mid-October.