MASNAA, Lebanon (AFP) - A chemical weapons disarmament team crossed into Syria from Lebanon on Tuesday to begin evaluating the country's arsenal of the banned weapons, an AFP correspondent said.
The 20-member team was en route to Damascus, where they will begin an inspection mission before the arms are turned over for destruction under a United Nations Security Council resolution adopted last week.
The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is overseeing the implementation of the UN resolution, which enshrines a deal hashed out by the United States and Russia.
The organisation has received documents from the Syrian regime detailing its arsenal, which is believed to include more than 1,000 tonnes of sarin, mustard gas and other banned chemicals stored at an estimated 45 sites.
The US-Russian deal was worked out after an August 21 chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus, which reportedly killed hundreds of people. The United States blamed the regime for the attack, and threatened to carry out punitive military action, although any attack was put on hold after the US-Russian deal was agreed.
The regime denies responsibility and accuses the rebels seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons in that attack and several others.
On Monday, a separate team of UN inspectors left Syria after a mission to investigate the August 21 attack and a series of other alleged instances of use of the banned weapons.
It has already confirmed in a preliminary report that sarin was used during the August 21 attack that occurred during its first mission to Syria.
It has said it aims to produce a complete report on seven alleged attacks by mid-October.