U.N. Chemical-Arms Inspectors Return to Syria

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 25, 2013, 8:02 a.m.

An in­ter­na­tion­al task force ar­rived in Syr­ia on Wed­nes­day to con­tin­ue prob­ing al­leg­a­tions of chem­ic­al-arms use in the civil war-torn coun­try, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

The U.N. group’s pre­vi­ous trip to Syr­ia co­in­cided with a deadly in­cid­ent it later at­trib­uted to a sig­ni­fic­ant re­lease of sar­in nerve gas. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion blamed Dam­as­cus for the strike and pre­pared to po­ten­tially re­tali­ate with force against Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s re­gime. Wash­ing­ton set that plan aside, though, after ne­go­ti­at­ing a blue­print with Mo­scow to cor­ral and dis­pose of the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment’s chem­ic­al-war­fare stock­pile.

Chem­ic­al-arms dis­clos­ures filed by Dam­as­cus for the plan ap­pear to be largely com­pre­hens­ive, and they gen­er­ally line up with U.S. in­tel­li­gence find­ings that the gov­ern­ment has ap­prox­im­ately 45 fa­cil­it­ies to man­u­fac­ture or hold the weapons, West­ern gov­ern­ment sources told the Los Angeles Times on Tues­day.

The de­clar­a­tions are “not ne­ces­sar­ily 100 per­cent ac­cur­ate, and we aren’t na­ive,” one of the in­siders said.

U.S. Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry and Rus­si­an For­eign Min­ster Sergei Lav­rov on Tues­day held a “very con­struct­ive” meet­ing on a draft U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil res­ol­u­tion to back up the chem­ic­al-dis­arm­a­ment plan, a high-level State De­part­ment source told re­port­ers. The sides have differed on how to handle any non­com­pli­ance by Dam­as­cus.

The lead­er of Syr­ia’s main West­ern-backed op­pos­i­tion group sep­ar­ately stressed his “dis­ap­point­ment” to Kerry “that there hadn’t been a mil­it­ary strike” in re­sponse to last month’s gas at­tack, a seni­or State De­part­ment of­fi­cial said in a Tues­day news brief­ing.

Kerry at­temp­ted to as­suage the rebel lead­er’s con­cerns, ac­cord­ing to the in­sider.

“The sec­ret­ary said that after Bashar al-As­sad has used chem­ic­al weapons on his own people, after he has killed tens of thou­sands, it is im­possible for us to ima­gine that he would play any role in a sub­sequent trans­ition gov­ern­ment,” the of­fi­cial said.

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