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First batch of chemical weapons leaves Syria

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-07

The first consignment of Syrian chemical weapons has left the country by boat as part of a UN-backed deal to rid the country of its chemical arsenal, the international chemical arms watchdog said on Tuesday.

The first batch of Syrian poison gas precursor chemicals was loaded onto a Danish cargo ship in the port of Latakia and taken out of the war-torn country.

“The vessel has been accompanied by naval escorts provided by Denmark and Norway, as well as the Syrian Arab Republic,” the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement. “It will remain at sea awaiting the arrival of additional priority chemical materials at the port.”

International naval escorts

Maritime security is being provided by naval escorts from China, Denmark, Norway and Russia, it added.

The removal had been scheduled to take place before December 31, but Syria's worsening civil war, logistical problems and bad weather had delayed the operation.

The year-end deadline for the removal of key weapons components was the first major milestone under a UN Security Council-backed deal arranged by Russia and the United States that aims to eliminate all of Syria's chemical arms by the middle of this year.

Under the plan, the chemicals will be taken from Latakia to a port in Italy where they will be transferred to a US Navy vessel fitted with equipment to destroy them at sea.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS, and AP)
 

Date created : 2014-01-07

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