U.N. Secretary-General Ban asks for international support for Joint Mission in Syria

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked for support from the international community this week to help Syria complete the destruction of its chemical weapons by June 2014.

Syria agreed to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention after an alleged chemical attack in Damascus killed hundreds of people. The U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are helping oversee the destruction of Syria's stockpile of weapons and will also follow-up to ensure the weapons are destroyed.

"I call upon Member States to offer their full support to the work of the Joint Mission, including through the provision of financial, material, technical and operational assistance," Ban said. "The role of Member States will be critical."

The conflict, which began in March 2011, has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced approximately 6.5 million Syrians, some of whom have fled to neighboring countries. The Joint Mission to destroy the chemical weapons in Syria expects to deploy approximately 100 U.N. and chemical weapons experts.

The Joint Mission is organized in three phases. Phase I includes establishing operational capability and presence in Damascus. Phase II will verify Syria's stockpiles of chemical weapons and oversee the destruction of chemical weapon production sites. Phase III is the most dangerous, which involves actually destroying the chemical weapons.

"[The Joint Mission is a] complex chemical weapons program involving multiple sites spread over a country engulfed in violent conflict, which includes approximately 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, agents and precursors that are dangerous to handle, dangerous to transport and dangerous to destroy," Ban said.

Ban asked for support from the international community to ensure the success of the Joint Mission.

"I welcome this historic step, and urge all parties to do their part to ensure that this encouraging progress is maintained and indeed accelerated," Ban said