UK & World News
Syria Completes Chemical Weapon List Handover
Syria has completed the handover of its chemical arsenal inventory, the world's chemical weapons watchdog says.
Confirmation of the handover came ahead of the Saturday deadline issued to Syrian president Bashar al Assad's regime in a US-Russian disarmament plan.
The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in an email: "OPCW has confirmed that it has received the expected disclosure from the Syrian government regarding its chemical weapons programme.
"The Technical Secretariat is currently reviewing the information received."
It came as the chief of staff for Russian President Vladimir Putin said the country could abandon support for the Assad regime if it learnt Syria was not committed to handing over its chemical weapons.
Sergei Ivanov reiterated Russia's longstanding opposition to Western military intervention in Syria, saying such action would only aid militants linked to al Qaeda.
"In the event of external military interference the opposition ... would entirely lose interest in negotiations, considering that the US would bomb the regime to its foundations as in Libya, giving them an easy path to victory," he said.
Mr Ivanov made the comments reported by Russian media to a Stockholm conference organised by the British-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
He said Russia expected to know the whereabouts of all the Assad regime's chemical weapons within a week, although it would take two to three months to decide how long would be required to destroy them.
"I'm talking theoretically and hypothetically, but if we became sure that Assad is cheating, we could change our position," he said.
United Nations inspectors released a report this week saying there was "clear and convincing evidence" that chemical weapons were used in an attack in Damascus on August 21. It said 1,400 people were killed in the attack.
The attack prompted an international diplomatic crisis over Syria, with US airstrikes appearing likely before a plan to prevent military action was put forward by Russia.