Syrian jets attack neighborhood near chemical weapons sites
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Syrian jets attack neighborhood near chemical weapons sites

Air force bombs areas in rebel-held town of al-Safira, near Aleppo, as OPCW inspectors work in country

Homes destroyed by Syrian government airstrikes and shelling in Aleppo, Syria, Tuesday, July 2, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Aleppo Media Center AMC)
Homes destroyed by Syrian government airstrikes and shelling in Aleppo, Syria, Tuesday, July 2, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Aleppo Media Center AMC)

The Syrian Air Force attacked rebel-controlled sites in the suburbs of al-Safira, a town located near a regime-controlled military complex believed to include chemical weapons facilities, Syrian opposition forces reported on Friday.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons — which won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for its efforts in Syria — have so far visited three sites linked to Syria’s chemical weapons program, a spokesman said Thursday, as the team races to destroy the country’s stockpile and delivery systems amid a raging civil war. An advance team of 35 OPCW and UN staff originally traveled to Damascus last week.

The inspectors are to visit more than 20 sites around the country as part of the disarmament mission. The facilities they inspected in the past 10 days have been in government-held areas, making them fairly easy to reach, said Michael Luhan, spokesman for the OPCW.

Also on Friday, the Security Council gave final authorization for the joint mission from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons — a necessary final step for the dangerous and unprecedented project.

The council president, Azerbaijan’s UN Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev, gave the authorization in a letter to the secretary-general Friday morning, obtained by The Associated Press.

The council also gave a green light to the proposal outlined by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a letter to the council on Monday to establish a UN-OPCW mission, with approximately 100 staff, to carry out the destruction in three phases by mid-2014.

Operating on rare consensus, the UN has mandated the OPCW to rid Syria of its stockpile by mid-2014 — the tightest deadline ever given to the OPCW. It’s also the first conducted amid ongoing fighting. Syria’s conflict, which erupted in March 2011, pits disorganized armed rebels against forces loyal to the regime of Bashar Assad.

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