UN Security Council unanimously passes Syria chemical weapons resolution

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The United Nations Security Council conducts a meeting on small arms, Sept. 26, 2013 at U.N. headquarters in New York. AFP
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously late Friday to require Syria to eliminate its arsenal of chemical weapons, according to media reports.
The vote late Friday by the 15-member council ended weeks of intense diplomacy between Russia and the United States.  It is based on a deal between the two countries reached in Geneva earlier this month following a sarin nerve gas attack on a Damascus suburb that killed hundreds.
The U.S.-Russia deal averted punitive U.S. military action against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which Washington blamed for the August attack.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council immediately after the vote that he aimed to hold long-sought talks aimed at organising a political transition in Syria in mid-November.
The decision comes after the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons approved a plan that outlines the timeline for cataloging and ultimately destroying Syria\’s chemical weapons.
On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama called the resolution a "huge victory" for the international community.  He said it is a "legally binding" and "verifiable" initiative that threatens consequences if Syria does not adhere to conditions.
The resolution calls for inspections within 30 days at all chemical weapons sites declared by Syria\’s government.  International experts are supposed to begin inspecting Syria\’s chemical arsenal by Tuesday.
The resolution also requires Assad to give up his chemical weapons by mid-2014.
In violence Friday, activists said a car bomb killed at least 30 people and wounded dozens in the town of Rankus, just north of Damascus.  Rankus is a Sunni town in a region mostly under control of rebels trying to overthrow Assad\’s government.
More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and the UN refugee agency says about one third of Syria\’s pre-war population of 20.8 million have fled their homes, either to other countries or safer areas within Syria.
Source: Agencies

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