Damascus, Oct 6: The UN chemical weapons experts Sunday started their first field visits in Syria even as a mortar attack in the strife-torn nation’s capital Damascus claimed four lives.
A source, who asked not to be named, told Xinhua that the experts started Sunday their first field trips but stopped short of giving further details about their destination.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese Al-Manar TV said the team of UN inspectors, manadated by a new UN resolution, started the process of destroying the chemical stockpiles of Syria.
The team of experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN, said last week that it had made “encouraging initial progress” in Syria.
The team arrived in Syria Tuesday and held meetings with Syrian foreign ministry officials before starting Sunday their ground work to find and dismantle an estimated 1,000 tonnes of chemical arsenal in Syria.
The UN Security Council has ordered the OPCW to help Syria destroy its chemical weapons in nine months by mid-2014.
In a week, the OPCW mission will be expanded with the arrival of more investigators.
Meanwhile, four people were killed and 20 others wounded Sunday in a mortar attack on a Christian-dominated district in the eastern part of Syria’s capital Damascus, Xinhua reported citing state-run SANA news agency.
The mortars struck the pro-government district of Qassa in Damascus as part of the endless series of similar attacks that have killed dozens over the past few months.
The report said the attack was launched from the nearby hotspot of Jobar, which was stuffed with rebels from different factions.
Qassa has been repeatedly targeted with mortars that often landed near the French Hospital.
SANA said Sunday’s attack has also hit the vicinity of the hospital, adding that the “terrorist” attack caused heavy property losses in the area.
The agency also posted on its official website the images of the aftermath of the attack, showing scenes of destruction in shops and buildings.
The incident came as the country was observing the 40th anniversary of the October 1973 War between Arab nations and Israel, which was marked by a speech by President Bashar al-Assad, in which he dismissed the rebels as “terrorists” who can’t be negotiated with unless they abandoned their weapons.