First chemical weapons leave Syria
Locations of chemical weapon storage and production facilities in Syria. Map by PBS NewsHour
A Danish cargo ship carried the first batch of chemical weapon materials away from war-ridden Syria Tuesday.
“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.”
The Syrian Government is responsible for getting the chemical materials safely to the port city of Latakia where international forces take over the process.
The beginning of the removal is the latest step in a deal brokered by Russia and agreed to by the United States after an Aug. 21 sarin gas attack near Damascus, blamed on President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. The OPCW said violence, bad weather, bureaucracy and technical issues delayed removing the first batch of chemical weapons which were supposed to leave by December 31.
The deal has missed several previous deadlines to date, including the inspection of chemical weapon sites due to violence and instability.