Chemical Weapons Inspectors Arrive in Syria

Chemical Weapons Inspectors

A team of international chemical inspectors has arrived in Syria to begin the ambitious task of destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

The inspectors’ mission was born out of a deadly chemical attack on a Damascus suburb on August 21. Most blame the Syrian government for issuing the attack but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad insists it was the rebels. Whoever’s fault it was (it was Assad!), the chemical attack prompted the Obama administration to threaten Syria with missile strikes. But just when the US was about to enter into Iraq 2.0, Syria took John Kerry up on his unscripted statement that the US would back off if they destroyed all of their chemical weapons. With the help of Russia, and the endorsement of the UN, a deal was set up to get rid of the chemical weapons and avoid another unwanted war.

Basically the Obama administration somehow managed to avoid a military intervention in Syria but couldn’t manage to avoid a US government shutdown. Conclusion: Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin are more pleasant to negotiate with than John Boehner and the merry band of tea partiers.

According to the agreement drafted by the US and Russia, the chemical inspectors will have to destroy all the equipment used for mixing and delivery by November. The whole operation, however, is expected to happen by next year.

It’s estimated that Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal includes more than 1,000 tonnes of sarin, the deadly nerve gas used in the Damascus attack, as well as other banned chemicals which are stored at multiple sites. And to make the job even tougher, Syria’s foreign minister, Walid Muallem, said that seven of the 19 declared chemical-weapons sites are in active combat zones.

Syria seems to be cooperating for now but it’s difficult to know whether Assad’s regime is being totally up-front with where its stockpiles are located. Meanwhile, the Syrian civil war rages on – sans chemical weapons but still with plenty of deaths.

Via: BBC News

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