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Syria destroys chemical weapons facilities ahead of deadline

Syria destroys chemical weapons facilities ahead of deadline


Bashar al-Assad's regime has until mid-2014 to destroy chemical stockpiles

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Syria has destroyed all of its declared chemical weapons production systems, according to a document from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) obtained by Reuters. The Syrian government had until November 1st to dismantle all production, mixing, and filling equipment, as stipulated under a disarmament timetable forged by American and Russian leaders. After having inspected 21 out of the country's 23 declared production sites, the OPCW says it is now confident that the regime has met its deadline.

"The OPCW is satisfied it has verified, and seen destroyed, all declared critical production/mixing/filling equipment from all 23 sites," the OPCW document reads. The organization is expected to formally announce its findings later Thursday.

Assad makes deadline

Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons program and agree to an international ban after the US threatened to intervene following an August 21st nerve gas attack that left hundreds dead outside the capital of Damascus. The US blamed the attack on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, while Syria and its ally Russia said it was carried out by the rebel groups looking to topple the embattled leader. The country now has until mid-2014 to destroy its chemical stockpiles.

The Syrian government formally declared its chemical weapons program on Sunday — three days prior to the OPCW's deadline — along with a plan for dismantling it. US Secretary of State John Kerry praised Syria for complying with the disarmament program earlier this month, when the country began dismantling its chemical production facilities, though there are concerns over whether the Assad regime has fully disclosed the extent of its weapons program.

The Hague-based OPCW, which won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month, says its teams inspected all but two of Syria's chemical weapons facilities. The two omitted sites were too dangerous for teams to enter, though the organization says production equipment from these locations had already been moved to another area, where they were inspected.