By Daniel DeMarco |Staff Writer|
Weapon experts have begun their mission to erase Syria’s capacity to manufacture chemical weapons by Nov. 1, and completely rid Syria’s stockpile by mid-year of 2014.
The first week of the operation will be focused on verifying Syria’s disclosure on what exactly they have stockpiled and the various locations of them, as well as planning visits to the locations themselves.
After these initial steps of the operation, a second group of inspectors will join the team for dismantling.
The chemical weapon stockpiles are estimated to be around 1,000 tons each and spread across the country in as many as 50 different sites. The team was staying at the central Damascus Hotel in Syria where civil war clashes were occurring on the edge of the city, according to ABC News.
It was from there that they began the first full day of the mission.
One of the multiple issues the U.N. team will face over the next several months is undoubtedly the current civil war, which has taken with it well over 100,000 human lives. The inspectors must travel through a country engulfed in a brutal civil war as they seek to complete the very delicate task at hand of eliminating an estimated 1,000-ton arsenal of chemical weapons.
According to ABC News, there is a joint effort currently in process of getting those many stockpile sites secure for the inspectors to complete their mission with emphasis on the areas that are far outlying in the country.
It was early in September when Syria agreed to the proposal of having their chemical weapon stockpiles placed under international control.
It was on Aug. 21 that a devastating chemical attack took place in Syria, which initially sparked this whole operation.
The attack claimed hundreds of lives in a region outside of Damascus called Ghouta. Videos of the attack and its aftermath went rampant on media sites such as YouTube. The videos showed people displaying symptoms of nerve agent poisoning, symptoms such as foaming of the mouth, suffocation, convulsions, vomiting, and heart failure were commonly seen among the many victims.
The U.N. began an investigation of the attack once a ceasefire was called in the area. Upon their investigation, the U.N. found that a deadly nerve agent, called sarin was used in the attack.
The United States accused President Bashar al-Assad, and forces loyal to Assad, as being responsible for the attack. A threat to pursue military action, in response to the attack, was then issued by the United States.
Assad denied responsibility of the attack, but in response to the threat, agreed to give up the chemical weapons which the country owns.
Two and a half years have gone by since the Syrian Civil War began in April 2011, when Assad began sending large military operations to handle the ongoing protests across the country.
Recent statements from the chemical weapon expert team depict that they have made encouraging initial progress in Syria and are on course in safely completing their mission to eliminate all Syria’s chemical weapons material and equipment by mid-2014.