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WAR REPORT
Syria submitted chemical arms destruction plan on time: OPCW
by Staff Writers
The Hague (AFP) Oct 27, 2013


Syria Kurds take Iraq border post from jihadists: monitor
Beirut (AFP) Oct 26, 2013 - Kurdish fighters in Syria seized a crossing on the eastern border with Iraq from jihadist rebel forces during fierce clashes at dawn on Saturday, a monitoring group said.

The Kurds "took control of the Al-Yaarubia border crossing with Iraq at dawn after clashes with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the Al-Nusra Front and other rebels," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Al-Yaarubia is a strategic border town for both Kurds and jihadists as its serves as a major conduit for the flow of weapons and fighters from Iraq into Syria.

The clashes left fighters dead on both sides, said the Observatory, a Britain-based organisation that relies on a network of sources on the ground for its reports.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP that the Kurdish fighters "entered Al-Yaarubia town on Friday morning and seized control of part of it" after three days of fierce battles.

The Kurds made their move on Al-Yaarubia on Thursday after capturing four villages in the area and overrunning jihadist checkpoints, Abdel Rahman said.

Fighting was still ongoing Saturday, he added.

The Kurds and the jihadists have been fighting for months for control of northeastern Syria, an area rich in oil and wheat.

Arab tribes in the area have helped the Kurds advance but did not take part in the fighting this week which has left a large number of dead on both sides, the Observatory said giving without further details.

Rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad have increasingly turned their guns on each other in recent months, with jihadists clashing with the mainstream Free Syrian Army in the north, where the rebels control vast swathes of territory.

Kurdish fighters affiliated with Turkey's separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) have meanwhile struggled to carve out an autonomous region in northeastern Syria similar to one in northern Iraq.

Syria handed over a detailed plan to destroy its chemical stockpile on time, international watchdog OPCW said Sunday.

"On 24 October 2013, the Syrian Arab Republic submitted to the OPCW its formal initial declaration covering its chemical weapons programme," the watchdog said in a statement, adding that Damascus had had until Sunday to do so.

Damascus was required to submit the destruction plan under a US-Russian deal agreed last month that headed off military strikes on Syria.

The accord also gives Syria up to mid-2014 to destroy its chemical arsenal.

President Bashar al-Assad's regime has already handed over an inventory of its chemical weapons and facilities, and international inspectors are already busy inspecting and destroying them.

The OPCW said a first monthly report of the international inspectors, covering their work on the ground since October 1, is ready and will be sent to the UN Security Council by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Syria's latest disclosures "provide the basis on which plans are devised for a systematic, total and verified destruction of declared chemical weapons and production facilities", said the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which won this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

"The document from Syria includes a general plan of destruction for consideration by the OPCW Executive Council," it added.

The OPCW's Executive Council will use the Syrian declaration to decide by November 15 on "destruction milestones" for Syria's arsenal.

Syria has also sent in a declaration of its chemical weapons activities and facilities, meeting its obligations as a new state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW said.

Peace envoy to arrive in Damascus on Monday: source
Damascus (AFP) Oct 27, 2013 - The UN-Arab League envoy to Syria is to arrive in Damascus on Monday as part of a tour aimed at garnering support for proposed peace talks, a government source said.

"Lakhdar Brahimi should be arriving on Monday to discuss preparations for Geneva 2," the source told AFP on condition of anonymity in reference to the talks.

Brahimi's expected visit comes after 19 powerful rebel groups warned that anyone who negotiates with President Bashar al-Assad's regime will be tried for treason.

It would be the veteran Algerian troubleshooter's first visit to the war-torn country since late December.

At that time, Brahimi called for "real change" in Syria, and for all powers to be handed over to a transitional government.

Official media in Syria responded to his remarks by branding him as biased and mocking him as an "ageing tourist".

This time around, Damascus has said the 79-year-old is welcome so long as he stays "impartial".

Brahimi was appointed the UN and Arab League envoy to Syria in September 2012, after Kofi Annan quit the post.

On Saturday, he was in Tehran, where he said Iran's participation in peace talks was "necessary".

His regional tour had previously taken him to Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

On Thursday, he met in Turkey with the head of the main rebel Free Syrian Army, General Selim Idriss, and other opposition commanders.

Brahimi is pushing for regime and rebel representatives to come together at the negotiating table.

Assad on Monday reiterated his position that his regime will not engage in discussion with opponents with ties to the rebels or to any foreign state.

The opposition has insisted it will not participate in Geneva 2 should there not be guarantees that such talks would lead to Assad's fall.

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