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Syrian regime meets deadline in chemical arms deal

The Syrian regime provided an inventory of its chemical arms as part of the recently brokered US-Russian deal, an international watchdog group said.

Clone of Syria chemical weaponsEnlarge
Syrians walk past damaged buildings in Maarat al-Numan, in the northwestern province of Idlib, on March 20, 2013. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

An international chemical arms watchdog announced Saturday that the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad had provided a list of its weaponized poison gas and nerve agents, and that the group would study the information.

"The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has confirmed that it has received the expected disclosure from the Syrian government regarding its chemical weapons program," the group said on its website Saturday. "The Technical Secretariat is currently reviewing the information received."

As part of a recently brokered deal with Russia and the United States, Syria has agreed to give a complete record of its chemical arms.

It's not clear exactly how much the regime has, though it's believed the stockpile could be around 1,000 tonnes of chemical toxins.

The list is likely to include the types of chemical weapons, the quantity, and where the illegal arms are created and then stored.

"It's quite long... and being translated," an unidentified United Nations diplomat told Reuters.

The list provided is only the first step in a large and ambitious plan to remove chemical weapons from Assad's arsenal. The deal states his government's stockpile must be dismantled by the middle of next year.

The news comes a day before what could be another diplomatic breakthrough in the civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people, displaced millions and destroyed much of the country. 

Ahmad Jarba, president of the rebel opposition Syrian Coalition, said on Sunday his group would be willing attend a proposed peace conference in Geneva if there is the intent to create a transitional government.

Reuters news agency obtained a letter he wrote to the UN Security Council, dated Sept. 19, saying the coalition "reaffirms its willingness to engage in a future Geneva Conference."

But "all parties must ... agree that the purpose of the conference will be the establishment of a transitional government with full executive powers."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/130922/syrian-regime-meets-deadline-chemical-arms-deal