The feasibility of an effort to destroy the Syrian government’s full chemical arsenal in less than a year could hinge on whether international authorities succeed in negotiating short-term truces between the country’s warring factions, the head of a global chemical-arms agency said on Wednesday.
Ahmet Üzümcü, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, told reporters the mid-2014 goal could be achievable “if some temporary ceasefires can be established” in the Syrian civil war, now in its third year.
“Much depends on the situation on the ground, that’s why we have urged all parties in Syria to be cooperative,” he added at a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands. “The elimination is in the interest of all.”
He said disarmament personnel are scheduled within weeks to travel to more than 20 locations in the Middle Eastern country, the Associated Press reported.
Malik Ellahi, OPCW head of government relations and political affairs, said Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government transferred a significant portion of its chemical-warfare stockpile away from opposition-controlled areas.
He said Damascus to date has indicated “that most of the sites and facilities that we need to inspect are in government control.”
International chemical-weapons auditors “will only go and conduct [their] mission” with assurance “that security on a given day, on a given schedule is provided,” Ellahi added.
Syrian state media on Tuesday aired a video said to show disarmament personnel operating in the country, Agence France-Presse reported.