Russia airlifts supplies to destroy Syrian chemical arsenal as China readies guard ship

December 19, 2013 12:46

"Today there have been 10 flights to Latakia and this is going to continue," Moscow's ambassador to Damascus says.

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A cargo ships intended to take part in a mission to transport chemical agents out of Syria.

Cargo ships to transfer chemcial weapons from Syria 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

Russia has sent to Syria ten aircraft laden with equipment to assist efforts to remove and dismantle the country's chemical weapons stockpile, AFP cited Moscow's ambassador to Damascus as saying.

"An air bridge has been established to deliver the technology and the equipment necessary for assisting the operation for the removal of the chemical weapons from Syria," AFP quoted Azamat Kulmukhametov as saying.

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"Today there have been 10 flights to Latakia and this is going to continue," he told Russia's RIA Novosti news agency.

Meanwhile, China's Foreign Ministry said Thursday said the country will send a military ship to help protect a specially adapted US vessel that will destroy Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

Syria is due to hand over deadly toxins which can be used to make sarin, VX gas and other lethal agents under an international agreement forged after an attack on the outskirts of Damascus killed hundreds in August.

The chemicals will be destroyed on board the specially adapted US ship because they are too dangerous to import into any country. There is no agreement yet on where the ship will anchor while the work is carried out.

"China has decided to send a military ship to participate in the protection mission for the shipping of Syrian chemical weapons," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.

She added that it was an "important move" to show China's support.

"China hopes that the relevant work on removing Syria's chemical weapons can be completed safely and smoothly. This will assist in pushing for a political resolution to the Syrian issue, will assist in increasing regional peace and stability and accords with the interest of all sides," Hua said.

China has repeatedly called for a political resolution. It has also called for a full and impartial investigation by UN chemical weapons inspectors and warned against pre-judging the results. It has said that anyone who uses chemical weapons should be held accountable.

Chemical weapons were likely used in five out of seven attacks investigated by UN experts in Syria, where a two-and-a-half-year civil war has killed more than 100,000 people, a UN report said last week.

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