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The Destruction of Syria’s Chemical Weapons Has Begun

A convoy of U.N. vehicles in Damascus on Oct. 5. Photo: ? Bassem Tellawi/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Less than two months after sarin gas was used outside Damascus, killing hundreds of people and leading to threats of a military strike, on Sunday international inspectors began overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. The U.N. said in a statement that experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are supervising Syrian personnel as they use “cutting torches and angle grinders to destroy or disable a range of items.” The team is on a tight schedule, as the U.N. Security Council decision says Syria’s ability to produce chemical weapons must be eliminated by Nov. 1, and its stockpiles should be totally destroyed in nine months. The news prompted John Kerry to offer some mild praise for Bashar al-Assad. “The process has begun in record time and we are appreciative for the Russian co-operation and obviously for the Syrian compliance,” said Kerry. “I think it’s a credit to the Assad regime, frankly. It’s a good beginning and we welcome a good beginning.”

Destruction of Syria’s Chemical Weapons Begins