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The disarmament mission grew out of deadly Aug. 21 attacks with chemical weapons on rebel-held suburbs of Damascus. The West holds the regime responsible, while the Assad regime blames the rebels.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Wednesday that its inspectors have so far visited 11 of more than 20 sites linked to the chemical weapons program.
The team destroyed "critical equipment" at six sites as well as unloaded chemical weapons munitions, said the OPCW.
A joint OPCW-U.N. mission is to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, precursor chemicals and production facilities by mid-2014.
Ban on Wednesday named a chief for the mission, appointing Sigrid Kaag, a Mideast expert and Arabic speaker from the Netherlands.
The team began operating in Syria at the beginning of October, and by last week, had visited two sites. Wednesday’s update signaled significant progress in the team’s work.
The inspectors are being asked to complete a first round of site visits by the end of October, including verifying inventory and rendering production, mixing and filling facilities unusable. The next phase, eliminating chemical agents, would begin after Nov. 1.
Experts say it’s a tight timetable, particularly with inspectors operating in the midst of a civil war. The head of the OPCW has said one site is in rebel-held territory and that routes to others run near areas of fighting.
Syria’s conflict erupted in March 2011, as a largely peaceful uprising against Assad that escalated into a civil war. The fighting has claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced some 7 million people.
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