Security threats plague Syrian weapons inspections

Most recently, a mortar attack was launched against the Damascus hotel where the inspection teams were staying late Wednesday night, according to recent reports. 

ADVERTISEMENT
The escalating violence directed at the international inspectors has created a "cause for concern" among the teams, OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan told the BBC.

That concern has forced inspectors to temporarily abandon disarmament work at certain chemical weapon sites, Luhan said in an interview Thursday. 

News of the attacks comes after organization workers touted recent progress on disarmament efforts in Syria. 

On Wednesday, OPCW leaders announced they had demolished weapons-related equipment at six sites inside Syria. 

Syrian President Bashar Assad has already declared his regime owns more than 1,000 metric tons of weaponized chemical agents, including nerve gas, dispersed over 20 sites in the country. 

The inspection teams have also coordinated the breakdown of thousands of metric tons of unused chemical munitions as part of the ongoing effort to eliminate those stockpiles, according to OPCW officials. 

The dismantlement plan is part of a U.S.-Russian disarmament deal reached earlier this fall.

So far, Assad has complied with the terms of the U.N.-mandated disarmament deal, offering up a comprehensive assessment of his chemical stockpiles and allowing international inspectors into the country. 

Syrian forces have battered rebel fighters in Syria during the course of the three-year war, hammering those anti-government forces with a barrage of heavy weaponry, including chemical weapons. 

U.S. forces were poised to begin military strikes against Assad in retaliation for his use of chemical weapons against rebel positions near Damascus. 

While Congress debated whether to grant the White House authority to intervene in Syria, the Russian-proposed disarmament deal put those strikes on indefinite hold.