Syrian crisis: Assad 'deserves credit' for agreeing to chemical weapons destruction, says John Kerry

US cautiously praises the Syrian regime for complying with UN mission to oversee the destruction of the country's chemical stockpile

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime deserves credit for complying with a deal to destroy the country's chemical weapons.

His words came following confirmation from international monitors that the destruction of Syria's stockpile had begun.

The UN resolution to get the regime to give up its chemical weapons was made possible thanks to cooperation between the US and Russia.

The two powers had previously been at loggerheads about how to deal with Syria following a chemical weapons attack near Damascus in August.

“I think it's extremely significant that yesterday, Sunday, within a week of the (UN) resolution being passed, some chemical weapons were being destroyed,” Mr Kerry said after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit in Bali, Indonesia.

“I think it's a credit to the Assad regime, frankly. It's a good beginning and we welcome a good beginning.

“The process has begun in record time and we are appreciative for the Russian co-operation and obviously for the Syrian compliance.”

The operation is being overseen by a team of experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

“The first day of destruction and disabling is over and missile warheads, aerial bombs, along with mobile and static mixing and filling units, were dealt with. Work continues tomorrow and in the next few days,” an official on the joint OPCW-UN delegation said on Sunday.

The stockpile's physical destruction, being carried out by the Syrians themselves, is set to be complicated and fraught, with some weapons sites being located in areas of heavy fighting being forces loyal to the Assad Regime and rebel forces.

Under the deal between the US and Russia, Syria's ability to use chemical weapons should be completely halted by mid-2014.

Mr Lavrov, also speaking at the Apec summit in Bali, stressed that the Western- and Arab-backed opposition must also comply and must ensure that chemical weapons do not fall into the hands of extremists.

Russia, an ally of Syria, has accused the opposition of being behind the chemical weapons attack on 21 August that most countries blame on the regime.

“The responsibility is not only on the Syrian government, but also on the opposition and all the states in this sphere should of course not allow these weapons to fall into the hands of non-state actors,” Mr Lavrov said.

My Kerry and Mr Lavrov told reporters that they were continuing to make progress on preparations for an international conference intended to help set up a transitional government for Syria.

The United Nations has said it would like to host the meeting in Geneva in mid-November. The meeting has been repeatedly delayed but both statesmen said they hoped the rough date would hold.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate