US believes 45 sites in Syria linked to chemical programme: Official

GENEVA (AFP) - Washington believes there are 45 sites in Syria linked to the country's chemical weapons programme, a US official said on Saturday, after a landmark US-Russia deal on eliminating Syria's arsenal.

"There are probably 45 sites associated with Syria's chemical weapons programme" and "roughly half have exploitable quantities of chemical weapons materials," the official told reporters shortly after US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced their accord.

The official added that it is believed that all of the sites are currently under the control of the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, given that Damascus has been moving stocks into areas it runs.

Russia has also agreed with a US assessment that Syria has 1,000 metric tonnes of chemical weapons agents and precursors, including blister agents such as mustard gas and sulfur, and nerve agents like sarin.