OPCW-UN team arrives in Damascus and sets up operational base

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) meets with the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon (OPCW) Ahmet Üzümcü Photo: OPCW

An advance team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations (OPCW-UN) has arrived in Damascus, Syria just four days after the OPCW Executive Council and the UN Security Council unanimously endorsed a plan to send them to Syria to begin the process of overseeing the destruction of the country's chemical weapons programme.

The team, which includes 19 OPCW inspectors and 14 UN staff members, went into Syria over land from the Lebanese capital, Beirut, without any incidents.

The Syrian Government provided visas and facilitated transit to Damascus.

A statement from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said that on arrival, the OPCW-UN team established a logistics base for its immediate work.

It says that in the coming days, their efforts are expected to focus on verifying information provided by the Syrian authorities and the initial planning phase of helping the country destroy its chemical weapons production facilities.

The OPCW Executive Council and the UN Security Council decided that this should be completed by 1 November.

According to the OPCW-UN Security Council deadline, the entire chemical weapons stockpile must be eliminated in the first half of next year.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’13″

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