Syria to report to OPCW as envoys try to bring opposition to talks
Syria was expected to submit a plan for the destruction of its chemical weapons arsenal to an international watchdog Thursday, as diplomatic efforts intensified to persuade the fractured opposition to take part in planned peace talks, dpa reported.
The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says it expects to receive Syria's "initial declaration, which will include the general plan of destruction" of the country's chemical weapons, ahead of an October 27 deadline.
On the diplomatic front, the joint Arab League-UN envoy on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, was due in Istanbul, where he was to meet with members of the country's exiled political opposition.
Brahimi was expected to press members of the opposition National Coalition to take part in the planned Geneva II peace conference, which is backed by Russia and the United States.
US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford was also in Istanbul, where sources in the Syrian opposition said he was meeting with hardliners opposed to participation in the conference.
The Syrian National Council - the largest group within the disparate Coalition - has said that Geneva could not go ahead while Syrians continued to suffer under the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
It is not yet clear when the conference will take place, with Syria and Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi saying it would start on November 23, but Brahimi denying that a final date had been confirmed.
Syrian authorities were expected to release a secondary school student whose case made headlines worldwide when she was arrested, apparently over blog entries, in 2009, an opposition group said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that a court had approved the release of Tall al-Mallohi, who was jailed for five years by a state security court in 2011 on charges of espionage.
The Britain-based group said that a total of 61 female prisoners were freed since Tuesday under a prisoner swap deal that won freedom for nine Lebanese pilgrims held by a rebel group in northern Syria and two Turkish pilots held in Lebanon.