Syria chemical weapons data received by OPCW

The BBC's Paul Adams explains the challenges of removing Syria's chemical weapons

The international chemical weapons watchdog says it has received "the expected" account by Syria of its chemical arms programme.

The announcement by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) comes before a deadline set for Damascus as part of a Russia-US deal.

Syria is believed to have about 1,000 tonnes of chemical toxins.

Its entire chemical weapons arsenal is meant to be dismantled by the middle of next year under the terms of the deal.

"We can confirm that we have received the expected disclosure from the Syrian government regarding its chemical weapons programme," the OPCW said.

Syria's chemical weapons

  • CIA believes Syria's arsenal can be "delivered by aircraft, ballistic missile, and artillery rockets"
  • Syria believed to possess mustard gas, sarin, and tried to develop VX gas
  • Syria has agreed to join Chemical Weapons Convention; it signed Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in 1972 but never ratified it

Sources: CSIS, RUSI

"The Technical Secretariat is currently reviewing the information received," the statement added.

On Monday, the UN confirmed in a report that the nerve agent sarin had been used in an attack in the Ghouta district of the capital, Damascus, on 21 August, killing hundreds of people.

The report did not apportion blame, but the US, UK and France have accused Syrian government forces of carrying out the attack, and the US has threatened military action.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has blamed rebel groups. Syria's ally, Russia, said it had "serious grounds" to believe the attack had been a provocation by the rebels.

More than 100,000 people have died since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011.

Millions of Syrians have fled the country, mostly to neighbouring nations, and millions more have been internally displaced.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist group, said 15 people were killed by government forces in a village in the central province of Hama, overnight from Friday to Saturday.

The Observatory said 26 people had been killed - 16 of them soldiers and 10 from a pro-government militia - when rebels attacked a nearby checkpoint on Thursday.

Security Council disagreements

The US-Russian deal aims to have inspectors on the ground in Syria in November, when they will make an initial assessment and oversee the destruction of certain equipment.

The disposal of all of Syria's chemical weapons would then be completed by mid-2014.

The core members of the OPCW were expected to vote on the timetable next week.

However, the OPCW said in a statement on Friday that a meeting of its executive council scheduled for Sunday had been postponed, without giving a reason.

"We will announce the new date and time... as soon as possible," it said.

Once the OPCW agrees to the plan, the United Nations Security Council will seek to endorse it.

The five permanent members are still discussing the wording of a resolution.

The White House said on Friday that the threat of military action remained on the table if Syria broke the agreement.

But Russia is opposed to the explicit mention of penalties in the event that Syria fails to co-operate.

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