The Syrian government began destroying facilities used for chemical weapons, a Jan. 19 Reuters report based on unnamed diplomatic sources said. The OPCW is scheduled to present a closed-door evaluation of Syria's progress on chemical weapons on Jan. 21.
- Andrew Bossone Circa Staff Writer
Exclusive: Syria begins destruction of chemical weapons facilities - sources
U.S. officials accused the Syrian government of continuing to use chemical weapons in 2014. They also criticized delays to destroying Syria's 12 chemical precursor factories. "More monitoring is clearly needed," said Bob Mikulak, the U.S. representative to the OPCW.
There are concerns over possible discrepancies in volume and other such matters. I am heading back to Damascus in the coming period and we will also pursue that.
- Sigrid Kaag, head of OPCW-UN joint mission
Kaag expressed concerns Sept. 4 that the Syrian government had not declared all its chemical weapons. The OPCW-UN mission in Syria ended Sept. 30.
Syria May Have Hidden Chemical Arms, U.S. Says - NYTimes.com
Syria had a program to develop the toxin ricin, the AP reported Sept. 19. The AP found that an Aug. 28 OPCW report said Syria submitted an amendment in July to its Oct. 2013 declaration of chemical weapons. Syria said it destroyed all ricin, but the ricin facility was out of its control, so OPCW could not verify the claim.
The Hague-based OPCW announced Sept. 10 it found "with a high degree of confidence that chlorine, either pure or in mixture, is the toxic chemical in question" in dozens of attacks in Syria in April-August 2014. It did not assign blame, but the U.S. and U.K. blamed Assad's military for the attacks.
UK blames Assad regime after watchdog documents chlorine attacks
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Aug. 18 that U.S. Ship MV Cape Ray finished neutralizing "the most dangerous chemicals" in Syria's declared stockpile. On Aug. 19, OPCW confirmed 600 metric tons of Category 1 chemicals were destroyed. The destruction was completed weeks ahead of schedule.
Ship ready to destroy Syria's chemical arms at sea
On Aug. 26 the UN inspection team was able to reach victims of the apparent chemical weapons attack near Damascus and take samples, despite coming under fire from "unidentified snipers." One vehicle was incapacitated by the fire, forcing some inspectors to turn back, but there were no injuries reported.
Snipers in Syria shoot at UN chemical inspectors: UN
A UN report published Dec. 12, 2013 said that in addition to the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin attack in Damascus, sarin was also likely used in attacks in Khan al Assal, Jobar, Saraqueb and Ashrafiah Sahnaya between March and August. The report did not place blame on either the government or opposition forces.
The fact of the matter is, is that we've got serious interests [in Syria], and not only humanitarian interests; we can't have the situation of ongoing chaos in a major country that borders a country like Jordan [and] Israel.
- President Barack Obama
In an interview with Charlie Rose broadcast on June 17, 2013, Obama said he and his staff debated, "the complexity of the situation [in Syria] and how we have to not rush into one more war in the Middle East." Assad's agreement to destroy chemical weapons ultimately delayed military intervention.
Obama defends Syria handling to skeptical public, critical congressmen