Reports suggest that Syria may possess up to 1,000 tonnes of chemical agents including sarin and the more potent nerve agent VX.

Experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons (OPCW), which won a Nobel Peace Prize this month, have assisted the country under a deal brokered by Russia and America. The chemical weapons watchdog said that "the Syrian Arab Republic submitted to the OPCW its formal initial declaration covering its chemical weapons programme" adding "Syria's submission is in line with the deadline".

Early this month inspectors visited many of the 23 declared sites. They were positive about the progress made regarding destruction work plans to disable the capability to produce chemicals and fill munitions with poison gas.

Issues of how to get rid of all weapons still need to be finalised. America has asked Norway if it could receive a large part of Syria's chemical weapons. The Norwegian foreign ministry declined, saying that it did not have the capability to complete the task in line with the deadlines. Both America and Russia have extensive experience of dealing with weapons and materials after reducing their stockpiles after the Cold War.

In August this year, over 1,400 people died around Damascus in a sarin gas attack which received international condemnation and threatened military intervention in the country by US forces and allies. Syria has denied responsibility for the attack.

The chemical weapons announcement come with reports of renewed fighting in Syria. The town of Sadad north of Damascus has become a key target for Al-Qaida-linked rebels and soldiers who are fighting for control. Sadad is a key strategic location thanks to its proximity to the main highway north from Damascus.

Lebanon's Sunni leadership has mostly supported the rebels, while Alawites and Shiites have backed the Assad government. Members of all three sects have gone as fighters to Syria.