Middle East

UN chemical mission boss arrives in Syria: OPCW

U.N. envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi (L), and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari attend a joint news conference in Baghdad, October 21, 2013. REUTERS/Khalid Mohammed/Pool

THE HAGUE: The top UN official leading the mission to destroy Syria's chemical weapons has arrived in Damascus, the world's chemical watchdog said on Monday.

"Today, the Special Coordinator, Ms Sigrid Kaag arrived in Damascus," the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement.

The Dutch official, named last week to head the risky joint mission to eradicate Syria's chemical stockpiles, travelled to The Hague over the weekend to meet the OPCW's director general Ahmet Uzumcu, the organisation added.

The organisation, which this month was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and the United Nations currently have about 60 experts working in Syria to eradicate chemical weapons.

Inspectors have now checked out 17 of more than 20 sites, it said Monday, with critical equipment to make chemical weapons destroyed at 14 of these sites.

Damascus has identified a total of 20 sites but the OPCW has not provided an exact number, saying only that "more than 20 sites" are affected by ongoing inspections.

Last week, the OPCW said its team was making good progress in its work, but an OPCW political advisor said security remained a concern.

The organisation, which 10 days ago was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and the United Nations currently have about 60 experts working in Syria to eradicate chemical weapons.

 

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