Syria sends chemical weapons data to OPCW
Syria has submitted details of its chemical weapons as part of a US-Russia brokered deal to make them safe, the chemical arms watchdog has said.
The Hague-based OPCW added that it expected more details from Syria in the coming days and had postponed a meeting planned for Sunday.
Syria was given a Saturday deadline to give a full list of its chemical arms.
The US had threatened military action over a chemical attack in Damascus last month, which the UN called a war crime.
The US, UK and France have accused Syrian government forces of carrying out the attack in the Ghouta district on August 21, but President Bashar al-Assad has blamed rebel groups.
Separately, two Syrian rebel groups have agreed a ceasefire in the northern town of Azaz after two days of fighting that raised fears of a war within a war.
Michael Luhan, a spokesman for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is responsible for policing the treaty outlawing chemical arms, said Syria’s submission was an “initial declaration”.
He said it was now being examined by the organization’s technical secretariat but he declined to say what was in it.
A UN diplomat confirmed to Reuters that details had been submitted, adding: “It’s quite long… and being translated.”
The US-Russia-brokered deal aims to have inspectors on the ground in Syria in November, when they will make an initial assessment and oversee the destruction of certain equipment.
The destruction of all of Syria’s chemical weapons would then be completed by mid-2014.
The core members of the OPCW were expected to vote on the timetable next week.
However, the OPCW said in a statement on Friday that a meeting of its executive council scheduled for Sunday had been postponed, without giving a reason.
“We will announce the new date and time… as soon as possible,” it said.
Once the OPCW agrees to the plan, the UN Security Council will seek to endorse it.
However, the five permanent members are still discussing the wording of a resolution, with Russia opposing threats of force against Syria.
On Monday, the UN confirmed in a report that the nerve agent sarin had been used in a rocket attack in Ghouta, although it did not apportion blame.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the mission was unable to verify the number of casualties, but referred to the “terrible loss of life on August 21”.
France, the UK and US insist the report clearly backed their stance that only the government forces were capable of carrying out the attack.
Syria’s ally, Russia, rejected the argument, saying it had “serious grounds” to believe the attack had been a provocation by rebel forces.