DAMASCUS — A first video showing international weapons inspectors at work inside a Syrian chemical facility was released on Tuesday, a week after the disarmament experts began their mission.
The footage, provided by Syrian state television, shows several weapons inspectors in protective gear, including helmets, gloves and in one instance a gas mask, inside a building.
One inspector applies a label bearing the logo of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and a serial number to a control panel before taking a photo of it.
Other inspectors can be seen carrying out the same process.
Additional footage shows an inspector wearing a gas mask and gloves alongside large container barrels inside cage frames.
He holds a device near them and appears to be taking readings from underneath the barrels.
The video, which runs just over a minute and a half, includes no sound of the inspectors talking or describing their work. There is no indication of where the work is taking place.
OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan said the footage had been released by the Syrian government, which was the only party that could describe it in detail because of confidentiality rules.
However, he confirmed the images of the inspectors at work in Syria were authentic.
“What they’re doing is applying these seals and labels and so forth that’s part of securing the facilities,” he said.
“They go to these facilities and verify contents, they will also apply seals so that they cannot be tampered with without it being known,” he added.
He said the footage appeared to show the inspectors in a “control room” that was “presumably in a production facility”.
Inspectors in a joint UN-OPCW team arrived in Syria a week ago to begin the daunting task of verifying Syria’s chemical arsenal and overseeing its destruction.
They are tasked under a UN Security Council resolution with destroying the arsenal by mid-2014.
Syria, which is believed to have 1,000 tonnes of sarin, mustard gas and other banned chemicals at some 45 sites, agreed to give up the arms under a US-Russian deal.
The agreement was hammered out in the wake of Aug. 21 sarin gas attacks on the outskirts of Damascus that prompted Washington to threaten military action against Syria.
The Syrian government denied responsibility for the attacks, but agreed to turn over its chemical arsenal, averting US military strikes.
The OPCW said Tuesday it would send a second team to Syria to assist in the disarmament mission, its first in an active war zone.