UN chemical weapons team to return to Syria

UNITED NATIONS - A team of chemical weapons experts will travel to Syria next month to follow up on Damascus' pledge to hand over its arsenal, the British UN envoy said Tuesday.


A joint mission from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations is overseeing the destruction of the stockpile, but questions remain over whether the regime made a full disclosure.


The head of the mission, Sigrid Kaag, told the UN Security Council that a team will travel to the Syrian capital in September to follow up, British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters.


During the session, the Council also discussed allegations of chlorine-based bombs being used in Syria in recent weeks.


"There are a lot of technical questions that need to be addressed on the declaration" that Syria initially made of its chemical arsenal, Lyall Grant said.


OPCW experts met in Beirut Tuesday to discuss the destruction of 12 production sites in Syria over the coming six months, he added.


Syria signed up to an international plan to destroy its chemical stockpile after the outcry that followed chemical attacks by the Damascus regime in August last year that may have killed as many as 1,400 people.


A US crew began work last month on destroying Syria's chemical weapons on the Cape Ray vessel in the Mediterranean, with about 60 percent of the stockpile neutralized, the Security Council heard.


The effluent from that operation will be sent to Germany and Finland for final disposal while Britain is wrapping up destruction of a separate batch of Syrian chemicals this week.


The British ambassador added that no decision was made on wrapping up the UN-OPCW mission given that Syria "remained a special case" and that work would continue.

There are a lot of technical questions that need to be addressed on the declaration.