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Chemical watchdog examines Syria weapons details

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This picture taken on October 17, 2019 from the Turkish side of the border with Syria in the Ceylanpinar district city of Sanliurfa shows smoke rising from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain during the Turkish offensive against Kurdish groups in northeastern Syria

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Damascus: The world's chemical weapons watchdog has begun today to examine details of Syria's chemical arsenal supplied by the regime, as rebels agreed a truce with jihadists in a key border town.

China urged a quick implementation of a landmark US-Russian deal to destroy Syria's chemical stockpile, as the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) tasked with dismantling the weapons said it has received an initial report from President Bashar al-Assad's regime on the arsenal.

In New York, UN envoys were due to resume talks on a draft Security Council resolution that would enshrine the plan to neutralise the lethal weapons.

On the ground, rebels agreed a truce with jihadists in a key border town, while a senior Syrian official said Damascus wanted a ceasefire in the 30-month war, which has killed more than 110,000 people and forced more than two million to flee.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing would "support the early launch of the process to destroy Syria's chemical weapons".

He also called for a proposed peace conference in Geneva to take place "as soon as possible".

"We believe that a political settlement is the only right way out in defusing the Syrian crisis," he added.

The US-Russian plan to dismantle the chemical arms stockpile has helped prevent US-led military action following a chemical attack last month that killed hundreds of people and which Washington blames on the regime.

Under the plan, Assad's regime had until today to supply details of its arsenal.

On the eve of the disclosure deadline, the OPCW said it "has received an initial disclosure from the Syrian government of its chemical weapons programme."

Its Technical Secretariat is now examining the details, it said.

A UN diplomat said the OPCW had received the Syrian declaration on Thursday. "It is quite lengthy," he said.

The OPCW has postponed a meeting of its Executive Council set for tomorrow that had been due to discuss how to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons programme.

Russia and the United States had brokered the deal which stipulates that the regime hand over the chemical weapons and facilities, which would be destroyed by mid-2014.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said he and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov spoke on the telephone yesterday about a "strong" UN Security Council resolution on the deal.

"We talked about the cooperation which we both agreed to continue to provide, moving not only towards the adoption of the OPCW rules and regulations, but also a resolution that is firm and strong within the United Nations," Kerry said.

AFP

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