Inspectors Begin To Destroy Syrian Regime's Chemical Weapons Arsenal

Syria chemical weapons team in Damascus
U.N. chemical weapons inspectors leave their hotel in Damascus on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013.

International experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations started destroying the Syrian regime's chemical weapons on Sunday, witnesses said.

The experts left their hotel in Damascus early Sunday morning, witnesses told Reuters, heading toward an unrevealed location, several days after the team arrived in the nation's capital.

The move to destroy the chemical weapons, disclosed to AFP and other outlets by unnamed officials, is a rare positive development in an increasingly desperate civil war in Syria, but many observers are skeptical about its prospects for full success.

A deal between the United States and Russia staved off a threatened U.S. attack on Syria based on the condition that President Bashar Assad's government agree to destroy all its chemical weapons, the use of which have been banned for decades under an international war convention.

On Aug, 21, nerve gas was used in an attack on a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital, killing 1,400 people. The U.S., France and a number of other countries believe a September U.N. report that suggests that the Assad regime was behind the chemical gas attack, but there is considerable controversy among observers about which side actually used the weapons in one of the low points in Syria's vicious war, which began in 2011. The regime blamed rebel "terrorists."

Further details including what exactly had been destroyed and where that had taken place were not immediately available, according to the Associated Press.

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