UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- A joint international mission in charge of Syria's chemical weapons program said that it had visited 18 of the sites disclosed by Syria, a UN spokesman said here Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Syria had began its work to "render critical equipment inoperable" at nearly all those sites, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky quoted the team as saying at a news briefing.
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Sept. 27 to rid Syria of its chemical weapons stockpile by mid- 2014 after a UN fact-finding group confirmed the Aug. 21 use of chemical weapons outside the Syrian capital of Damascus.
The joint mission, comprising personnel from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations, is tasked with overseeing the elimination of all Syria's chemical weapons by the middle of next year, the tightest deadline ever for the mandate.
The mission is also the first conducted amid ongoing fighting in the Arab country, which erupted in March 2011 pitting disorganized armed rebels against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
In response to a question on a UN trust fund that is being set up to help finance the joint mission in Syria, Nesirky said that there are discussions with a number of donors, but no contributions have been received so far.
"At this stage, planning is in full swing for the joint mission, " the spokesman said.
"Costs are going to be met in the first instance from the regular UN budget and, as necessary, from the trust fund," he said. "So this is still a work in progress."
He said that the donation of armored vehicles had nothing to do with the trust fund.
"In addition to the 10 armored vehicles donated by the United States, the European Union is providing 10 and the United Kingdom is providing two," he said.
"Canada flew the 10 U.S. armored vehicles to Lebanon," he said, adding that, "Sweden has put a transport aircraft at the disposal of the mission for two months."
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