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Syria Destroys Three Chemical Weapons Sites

UN chemical weapons experts in Syria -ReutersUN chemical weapons experts in Syria -ReutersSyria has destroyed three of its 12 chemical weapons production sites but is unable to dismantle three other facilities because of security conditions, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Wednesday in its latest report, according to AFP.
 
The report was released to the UN Security Council, which is overseeing efforts to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons program.
 
Syria has agreed to destroy seven aircraft hangars and five underground structures identified by the OPCW as chemical weapons production sites but there have been delays caused by logistical problems.
 
In the report obtained by AFP, OPCW director general Ahmet Uzumcu said his team of experts was able to verify that three tunnels have been destroyed and that work on dismantling a fourth underground structure was under way.
 
"Currently, one underground structure and two hangars are not accessible owing to the security situation near these sites," he wrote in the report.
 
Despite this hurdle, Uzumcu said he expected the destruction of all five underground tunnels to be completed by June.
 
Concerning the hangars, work has begun on five sites and explosives are to be delivered soon to begin demolishing the structures.
 
"The Syrian authorities have continued to extend the necessary cooperation" for the dismantling of the 12 sites, the report added, according to AFP.
 
The Security Council is due to discuss progress in dismantling Syria's chemical weapons program at a meeting on April 2.
 
A joint mission between the UN and the OPCW was tasked with eliminating Syria's chemical weapons program after the Security Council found rare agreement on Syria.
 
The deal was reached under threat of U.S. airstrikes after images of civilian victims laid out after an attack on a Damascus suburb shocked the world. President Bashar Al-Assad's government denied involvement and blamed rebel groups.
 
A total of 1,300 metric tons of chemical weapons have been removed from Syria, with the majority being destroyed aboard the US Navy ship MV Cape Ray.
 
Even after the destruction of Syria’s stockpile, an Israeli official recently said Israel believes Syria has retained caches of combat-ready chemical weapons after giving up raw materials used to produce such munitions.

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