Disarmament Watchdog Calls for Temporary Ceasefires in Syria

Uzumcu said the timeline laid out for Syrian disarmament is extremely tight

The head of the world's chemical weapons watchdog called Wednesday for temporary ceasefires in Syria's raging civil war in order to meet tight disarmament deadlines.


"I think if some temporary ceasefires can be established, I think those targets could be reached," Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons chief Ahmet Uzumcu told journalists in The Hague.


The OPCW has been charged with dismantling Syria's chemical arsenal and facilities by mid-2014 under the terms of a UN Security Council resolution drawn up after nerve gas attacks in August.


Uzumcu said the timeline laid out for Syrian disarmament "is extremely tight."


Syria has won rare international praise for its cooperation with the chemical disarmament mission, deployed in Damascus since October 1.


"The cooperation with Syria has been quite constructive. The Syrian authorities are cooperative," OPCW Director General Uzumcu said.


Uzumcu said on Tuesday that a second batch of inspectors would be deployed to Syria, bolstering a joint OPCW-UN team already on the ground.


Some 19 OPCW arms experts and 16 UN logistics and security personnel are already in Syria and have started to destroy weapons production facilities, with footage of their work broadcast on Syrian television.


"There are 20 sites to be visited in the coming weeks," Uzumcu said.


Because of the nature of its work, the OPCW rarely communicates in detail about its activities.


UN chief Ban Ki-moon has warned that the weapons inspectors face unprecedented danger, saying it would take 100 foreign experts to complete "an operation the likes of which, quite simply, has never been tried before."


The mission will have bases in Damascus and Cyprus.


Syria has already made a declaration of its weapons facilities, and the UN resolution set a November 1 deadline for the eradication of production and chemical mixing facilities.




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