UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – Experts destroyed missile warheads, aerial bombs and chemical mixing equipment Sunday on the first day of a campaign to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, the UN said.
The experts supervised Syrian personnel who “used cutting torches and angle grinders” to make sure the weaponry could not be used, said a statement released by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
The OPCW and UN experts arrived in Damascus to start checking President Bashar al-Assad’s banned chemical weapons and destroy them in line with a UN Security Council resolution.
“The process of destroying Syria’s chemical weapons program began today,” said the statement, confirming comments by a UN official in Damascus.
The Syrian workers were destroying or disabling a “range of items,” including “missile warheads, aerial bombs and mixing and filling equipment,” the statement added.
“The process will continue in the coming days.”
The international team is also “monitoring, verifying and reporting” whether Assad’s government provided accurate information on its chemical stockpiles.
The Security Council passed a resolution on September 27 backing a US-Russia plan submitted to the OPCW to disarm Syria’s chemical weapons after a sarin gas attack in August killed hundreds.
Under the plan, Syria’s chemical weapons mixing and production facilities must be destroyed by November 1.
UN leader Ban Ki-moon is expected to send a report to the Security Council on Monday setting out in more detail the logistics of what is considered one of the biggest and most dangerous disarmament operations ever staged because the Syria war is still raging.