Syria vows to cooperate with disarmament experts

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has stressed his government’s resolve to fully cooperate with the international chemical experts tasked with overseeing the process of dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons arsenals.

“We are transparent and the experts can access any facility. We’ll provide them with the data, which they can examine and verify and then judge our credibility. When we say we are transparent, we mean it: to date, we have complied with every agreement we have signed,” Assad told German weekly magazine Der Spiegel on Sunday.

On September 14, Russia and the United States agreed on a deal under which Syria had to account for its chemical weapons stockpiles within a week and see them eliminated by the middle of 2014.

Syria agreed to the deal, thus averting a US military strike on the Arab nation over a chemical attack in Damascus that Washington had blamed on the Syrian government. Damascus strongly rejected the allegation, saying the attack had been carried out by the foreign-backed militants to draw in military intervention.

The UN Security Council on September 27 unanimously approved a resolution condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria and calling for their elimination.

The Syrian president once again dismissed claims made by the West that Damascus had used chemical weapons in the country.

“We did not use chemical weapons; this is not true. And the picture you are drawing of me is not true. The United States, the entire western world, the richest countries in the Arab world and neighboring Turkey are against me, and terrorists are crossing the borders from Iraq,” Assad said.

Assad acknowledged that personal mistakes were made by individuals at the start of the unrest in the Arab country, but he said the fundamental choices were correct.

“On the other hand, we also needed to confront terrorism; it’s the duty of the government to defend the country and take the relevant decisions to that effect. In the context of implementing these decisions, mistakes were made. We must acknowledge that,” said the Syrian president.

“Even if mistakes were made on the ground, our principal decisions were the right ones,” he said.

A team of inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has begun the process of destroying Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons and the machinery used to produce them.

The OPCW team arrived in Damascus on October 1 to verify the details of the arsenal turned over by the Syrian government.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official on the joint OPCW-UN delegation said on Sunday that “The first day of destruction and disabling is over and missile warheads, aerial bombs, along with mobile and static mixing and filling units, were dealt with. Work continues tomorrow and in the next few days.”

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry praised the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the quick implementation of the chemical weapons deal.

“I think it’s a credit to the Assad regime, frankly. It’s a good beginning and we welcome a good beginning,” Kerry said on Monday.

Syria has been gripped by deadly turmoil since 2011.

By Press TV


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