A team of disarmament experts from the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) [official website] on Sunday began overseeing the destruction [AFP report] by the Syrian government, and will verify that the process is correctly handled. The disarmament team will destroy the chemical weapons arsenal, its storage sites and the facilities which manufacture them in compliance with UN Security Council [official website] Resolution 2118 [PDF], which adopts and orders the Syrian government to comply with the September 27 decision of the OPCW Executive Council. The decision requires Syria to identify the types, quantities and locations of all chemical weapons in its stockpile, as well as all chemical weapon storage facilities, production facilities, and research and development facilities, and provides a deadline of mid-2014 to complete their destruction.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Bashar al-Assad. In September UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised [JURIST report] the Syrian government's formal agreement to sign and abide by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) [text, PDF; OPCW backgrounder]. CWC signatories must agree to "chemically disarm" by destroying chemical weapon stockpiles and creating enforcement mechanisms to ensure that chemical weapons will not be produced, acquired or transferred within their jurisdiction. Rights groups accused [JURIST report] the Syrian government of responsibility for August 21 chemical weapon attacks, which allegedly involved the use of sarin nerve gas. Syria's main opposition group in August urged the UN [JURIST report] to probe numerous massacres they say were committed during Ramadan by forces loyal to Assad.