Weapons inspectors report 'encouraging' progress in Syria
BEIRUT (AP) - International inspectors racing to meet a mid-2014 deadline to eliminate Syria's chemical stockpile said on Thursday they have made "encouraging initial progress" in their mission, and hope to start on-site inspections and begin disabling equipment within the next week.
An advance team of disarmament experts and United Nations staff members arrived in Syria on Tuesday to begin laying the foundations for a broader operation charged with dismantling and ultimately destroying President Bashar al-Assad's chemical programme over the next nine months. The first step in the mission - endorsed by a United Nations Security Council resolution last week - is to scrap Syria's capacity to manufacture chemical weapons by Nov 1.
In a statement, the team said it has "made encouraging initial progress, following the first working day of meetings with the Syrian authorities".
"Documents handed over yesterday by the Syrian Government look promising, according to team members, but further analysis, particularly of technical diagrams, will be necessary and some more questions remain to be answered," it said.