An international team of chemical weapons experts has made "encouraging initial progress" as it works towards the elimination of Syria's poison gas arsenal, the United Nations said on Thursday.
"Documents handed over yesterday by the Syrian Government look promising, according to team members, but further analysis, particularly of technical diagrams, will be necessary and some more questions remain to be answered," the United Nations said in a statement.
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Earlier on Thursday, a Syrian source told media outlets in Russia that inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the UN started work Thursday on dismantling Bashar Assad's chemical weapon arsenal.
It was further reported that Syrian officials refused to confirm the inspectors' exact locations due to reasons having to do with the safety of the inspectors and Syrian national security.
The inspectors responsible for disarming Syria arrived in Damascus on Tuesday, as part of the continuation of the investigation of Syria's use of chemical gas and the dismantling of it, as per the decision of the UN Security Council.
The OPCW team faces a daunting task, as President Assad's regime is understood to have more than 1,000 tons of the nerve agent sarin, mustard gas and other banned chemical weapons.
On Wednesday, the team also considered "the health and environmental hazards which they may have to confront", said the joint statement.
"Meanwhile, discussions on the size of Syria's stockpiles are also under way, as well as long-term planning, so that deadlines unanimously imposed by the executive council of the OPCW and the UN Security Council are met," it added.
After strained diplomatic contacts in recent weeks, all 15 member states of the UN Security Council agreed on the decision to dismantle Syria of chemical weapons - Resolution 2118. The resolution does not include automatic punitive measure if Syrian President Bashar Assad does not comply.
The agreement included a detailed schedule to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons, and stated that all means of chemical weapon production would be destroyed no later than November 1 of this year, and all chemical weapon reserves and equipment would be destroyed by the first half of 2014. The Security Council will discuss punitive measures in the event that the Assad regime does not adhere to the resolution.
AFP, Elior Levy contributed to this article
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