Inspectors with the United Nations said Monday that Syria's military has begun destroying its cache of weapons of mass destruction, taking cutting torches to warheads and angle grinders to aerial bombs.
International experts are only seeing the operation. The military is doing the actual labor, Reuters reported.
"Let it be clear that it is the Syrians who do the actual destroying while we monitor, observe, verify and report," said the unnamed official, who was part of a joint team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague and the United Nations. The soldiers are "destroying munitions such as missile warheads and aerial bombs and disabling mobile and static mixing and filling units."
The operation is the culmination of a deal forged between Syria and the West, pushed by Russia, to keep international forces from waging a military mission against Syrian President Bashar Assad as retribution for his alleged use of chemical weapons against rebel fighters. Mr. Assad agreed to destroy his chemical weapons cache if the West backed off talk of military attack.
The weapons destruction operation is expected to last for months.
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