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Officials: Syria inspectors must seek cease-fires

  • Director General Ahmet Uzumcu of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW, gives an update on the the chemical watchdog's verification and destruction mission in Syria during a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday Oct. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

    Director General Ahmet Uzumcu of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW, gives an update on the the chemical watchdog's verification and destruction mission in Syria during a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday Oct. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

  • Director General Ahmet Uzumcu of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW, gives an update on the the chemical watchdog's verification and destruction mission in Syria during a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday Oct. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

    Director General Ahmet Uzumcu of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW, gives an update on the the chemical watchdog's verification and destruction mission in Syria during a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday Oct. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

  • Director General Ahmet Uzumcu of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW, gives an update on the the chemical watchdog's verification and destruction mission in Syria during a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday Oct. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
  • Director General Ahmet Uzumcu of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW, gives an update on the the chemical watchdog's verification and destruction mission in Syria during a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday Oct. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

International inspection teams overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons will have to negotiate cease-fires between government and rebel forces to gain access to some sites, officials closely involved with the mission said yesterday.

The revelation is a clear indication of the risks and difficulties of the unprecedented disarmament plan, and it suggests that the effort to rid Damascus of its poison gas stockpile may have a hard time meeting its mid-2014 deadline.

The destruction of the stockpile is being led by a joint team from the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu told reporters in The Hague the timeline was tight but “not unrealistic.” He said inspectors have to visit more than 20 sites in coming days and weeks. Since the mission started last week, they have been to one location; they were expected to inspect a second site near Damascus, the Syrian capital, yesterday.

This is the first time the global organization that polices the Chemical Weapons Convention has sent its inspectors and analytical chemists into a raging civil war, and their security is a major concern amid ongoing fighting between President Bashar Assad’s forces and various rebel groups. The war has already left at least 100,000 people dead.

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