And it's on: Disarmament experts have begun the massive undertaking that is dismantling and destroying Syria's estimated 1,000-ton stockpile of chemical weapons. The UN-endorsed inspectors have only nine months to get rid of the entire arsenal—the tightest deadlines the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has ever faced, the AP reports. And it has to do the whole thing in the middle of a civil war, to boot.
The 20-person advance team has been in the country for five days, but today was when the disarmament began in earnest. The group says it oversaw local workers as they used cutting torches, angle grinders, and disc saws to dismantle items like missile warheads and aerial bombs, and disable mixing and filling equipment. "Let it be clear that it is the Syrians who do the actual destroying while we monitor, observe, verify, and report," an official from the mission tells Reuters. The team will grow to 100 inspectors in the future.