Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Chemical Watchdog Agency Verifies One of Two Unchecked Syrian Sites
The Syrian government has provided international personnel with photographic evidence of a "dismantled and long abandoned" chemical-arms site in a contested area of the country's civil war, according to Wednesday comments by the global watchdog charged with overseeing dismantlement of the regime's chemical arsenal.
To ensure the data's authenticity, Syrian-government personnel used "sealed cameras" and a location-tracking mechanism to gather pictures of the Aleppo-area site, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement.
The images -- which showed "extensive battle damage" to the site -- brings to 22 the number of Syrian chemical-arms sites audited by international officials. That leaves one unchecked location that has been declared by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.
The chemical-weapons watchdog last week said Syria had destroyed all critical equipment at its declared chemical-weapons production and mixing locations, even though security threats rendered the Aleppo location and another site inaccessible to OPCW auditors.
Observers in Washington, though, have questioned whether Damascus might be concealing some of its chemical-warfare assets. Assad admitted his forces possess chemical weapons and agreed to their destruction in September, after a nerve-gas attack weeks earlier raised the possibility of U.S. military intervention in his country's civil war. The leader agreed to the chemical arsenal's elimination, prompting the fast-track disarmament push now being led by U.N. and OPCW officials.
One of Assad's former generals echoed statements of skepticism that the leader's chemical-arsenal declaration is complete and accurate, The National reported on Wednesday.
However, the one-time Syrian brigadier general said he had not seen the Assad regime's chemical-weapons disclosure.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said Washington is "still reviewing" the document, which is 700 pages long and contains "extremely technical details."
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