Syria weapons list 'handed over'

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says it has received an “initial declaration” from Syria outlining its weapons programme.

Syria weapons list 'handed over'

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says it has received an “initial declaration” from Syria outlining its weapons programme.

Spokesman Michael Luhan said the declaration is “being reviewed by our verification division.”

Mr Luhan says the organisation will not release details of what is in the declaration.

The OPCW is looking at ways to fast-track moves to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles and production facilities.

However, diplomatic efforts to speed up the process are moving slowly. A meeting initially scheduled for Sunday at which the organisation's 41-nation executive council was to have discussed a US-Russian plan to swiftly rid Syria of chemical weapons was postponed today and no new date was immediately set.

No reason was given for the postponement.

Under a US-Russia agreement brokered last weekend in Geneva, inspectors are to be on the ground in Syria by November. During that month, they are to complete their initial assessment and all mixing and filling equipment for chemical weapons is to be destroyed.

All components of the chemical weapons programme are to be removed from the country or destroyed by mid-2014.

Meanwhile Syria’s main western-backed opposition group has slammed al Qaida-linked gunmen and their expanding influence in the country, saying the jihadis seek to establish an Islamic state.

A statement from the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) follows days of vicious infighting in which the extremists seized control of the northern town of Azaz from mainstream opposition fighters.

The SNC says the actions of the al Qaida-linked fighters “counter the principles that the Syrian revolution is trying to achieve”.

The group also warns that the Islamic fighters are “strengthening their positions” in opposition-controlled areas.

The infighting threatens to further split opposition forces outgunned by President Bashar Assad’s troops and strengthen his hand as he engages with world powers on relinquishing his chemical weapons.

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