Skip to main content

Team arrives to rid Syria of chemical weapons

From CNN Staff
updated 4:35 PM EDT, Tue October 1, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Syria will never give up its chemical stockpile, a defected general says
  • Inspectors focused on planning to destroy chemical weapons facilities
  • U.N. Security Council voted to require Syria to eliminate arsenal

(CNN) -- An international team tasked with overseeing the effort to rid Syria of its chemical weapons has arrived in Damascus.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Tuesday that the inspectors are focusing on the initial planning phase of helping the embattled country destroy its chemical weapons production facilities.

They plan to visit nearly 50 sites as part of the mission.

Some are not convinced the plan will work.

A defected Syrian general told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will never give up its chemical stockpile.

"The locations of most of the scientific research centers in Syria and the storage facilities are known and under surveillance, thus, he will give up those centers and facilities for sure without lying. That said, however, Bashar al-Assad will not give up the chemical stockpile," said Syrian Brig. Gen. Zaher al-Sakat.

Al-Sakat said that he defected from the Syrian military after he was ordered to use chemical agents. He said he swapped the chemicals out for something non-toxic to fool his commanders.

The general said that in addition to four secret locations within Syria, the regime is currently transferring chemical weapons to Iraq and Lebanon, an allegation that the commander of the opposition Free Syrian Army, Gen. Salim Idriss, also recently made to Amanpour.

Lebanon and Iraq denied the claims at the time, and CNN's Barbara Starr reported that, if true, the claim would fundamentally shift the assessments of U.S. intelligence officials.

The U.N. Security Council, capping a dramatic month of diplomacy, voted unanimously late Friday to require Syria to eliminate its arsenal of chemical weapons -- or face consequences.

"Today's resolution will ensure that the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons program happens as soon as possible and with the utmost transparency and accountability," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

The U.N. resolution was based on a deal struck this month between the United States and Russia that averted an American military strike over allegations the Syrian government used sarin nerve gas in an August 21 attack on a Damascus suburb. U.S. officials said it left at least 1,400 people dead.

CNN's Mick Krever contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
updated 5:33 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
updated 7:41 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
updated 5:17 PM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
updated 4:25 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 2, 2014
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
updated 12:10 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
updated 5:19 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
What caught our experts' ears was as much about what he didn't address as much as what he did.
updated 6:19 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
The three-year war in Syria has claimed 162,402 lives, an opposition group said Monday, as the raging conflict shows no signs of abating.
updated 9:41 PM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
Official: The U.S. believes a jihadi featured in a suicide bombing video in Syria is Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha who grew up in Florida.
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
For the first time, Britain has convicted someone of a terrorism offense related to the Syrian civil war.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT