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Inspectors confirm chemical weapons site in Syria 'abandoned'

Experts from the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons and United Nations have verified 22 of the 23 sites declared by Syria.

Syria rebel fighter aleppoEnlarge
A rebel fighter pictured in the northern city of Aleppo on Nov. 7, 2013. International inspectors confirmed Thursday that a chemical weapons facility in the city had been 'long abandoned.' (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Twenty-two down, one to go.

International inspectors overseeing the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons program said Thursday they had verified nearly all of the sites declared by the Syrian government. 

The latest location was in the northern city of Aleppo, which inspectors had been unable to visit earlier due to extensive damage at the site caused by the country’s long-running civil war.

Experts from the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons and United Nations confirmed the site was “dismantled and long abandoned.”

The finding was based on photographs and footage taken by “sealed cameras" fitted with a GPS system so the location of the cameras could be authenticated.

More from GlobalPost: How the war in Syria has become a terrible, tragic mess

Inspectors said last week they had visited 21 of the 23 chemical weapon production facilities and found they had been destroyed or rendered “inoperable.” They haven't released the location of the last facility. 

The joint OPCW-UN team has until mid-2014 to destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile under a UN-backed deal brokered by the United States and Russia. Syria is believed to have nearly 1,300 tons of chemical weapons and nerve agents and 1,230 shells, rockets and mortars. 

It's a challenging task made all the more difficult because of the war still raging inside the country.

In the latest development, Syrian government troops have taken control of a key rebel-held position in the town of Sbeineh, south of the capital Damascus, the BBC said, citing state television. 

"Our brave army has taken control of ... the Sbeineh [area]... and [the nearby village] of Ghazalah in Damascus province after crushing the last terrorist positions there," the state TV report said.

More from GlobalPost: Inside the Syrian conflict  

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/131107/inspectors-chemical-weapons-site-aleppo-abandoned