U.N. Council to Syria: Destroy weapons
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on Friday night to secure and destroy Syria's chemical-weapons stockpile — a landmark decision aimed at taking poison gas off the battlefield in the escalating 2 1⁄2-year conflict.
The vote after two weeks of intense negotiations marked a major breakthrough in the paralysis that has gripped the council since the Syrian uprising began. Russia and China previously vetoed three Western-backed resolutions pressuring President Bashar Assad's regime to end the violence.
“Today's historic resolution is the first hopeful news on Syria in a long time,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council immediately after the vote.
For the first time, the council endorsed the roadmap for a political transition in Syria adopted by key nations in June 2012 and called for an international conference “as soon as possible” to implement it.
Ban said the target date for a new peace conference in Geneva is mid-November.
The resolution calls for consequences if Syria fails to comply, but those will depend on the council passing another resolution if there would be non-compliance. As a result, Russia, an ally of Syria, could have the means to stop any punishment from being imposed.
The agreement allows the start of a mission to rid Syria's regime of its estimated 1,000-ton chemical arsenal by mid-2014 — significantly accelerating a destruction timetable that often takes years to complete.
Also on Friday, a car bomb exploded outside a mosque north of Damascus, killing at least 30, the latest victims of a civil war that has claimed more than 100,000 lives and driven another 7 million — about a third of the country's pre-war population — from their homes since March 2011.