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Once a vibrant, religiously mixed community, Syria's eastern city of Raqqa is now a shell of its former self, terrorized by hard-line militants who have turned it into the nucleus of their vision for the Islamic...More >>
(CNN) – With the U.S. backing off its push for military action in Syria, world leaders are watching to see if the Damascus regime will give up its chemical weapons stockpile.
But there's a lot of skepticism out there as well, about whether the proposal is realistic, or feasible.
While officials in Damascus, Tehran and Moscow gushed about a deal that could avert a U.S. military strike on Syria, a virtual avalanche of questions left it smothered in doubt. One Israeli expert said it amounted to a "mission impossible."
"For the moment is seems like a mission impossible, in the conditions in which the Syrian conflict finds itself just now," said Ely Karmon, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism. "First of all, a cease fire between the two forces, then both sides have to withdraw to allow inspectors to come in and verify where the weapons and the facilities are."
Even if Syria accepted a cease-fire, there are serious doubts that the rebels would go along.
"The solution may be a good idea but, and it's a big "but" - the technicalities," said Col. Yoni Fighel, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism. "As much as this offer is tempting on the surface of it, the Russians are not being regarded as honest brokers."
An Israeli research institute has compiled a detailed list of Syria's chemical production sites, five major facilities, but experts say there are dozens more sites and Syria's suspected one thousand tons of chemical agents have been disbursed.
Someone, most likely, the U.N., would have to oversee any operation. But there's even a harsher reality, the timeline.
"It's a very long-term solution, at least in my opinion, taking into account the huge arsenal…at least three to four years," said Karmon.
Remember Iraq. U.N. inspectors spent years searching out Saddam Hussein's chemical stockpile, eventually gathering rockets, artillery and raw chemicals at a sprawling desert site called Mouthanna. Iraq may have had more chemical arms, but the inspectors weren't working in the crossfire of conflict.