BEIRUT - Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces have taken control of a
highway connecting Damascus to the coast that is needed to extract
hundreds of tons of toxic chemicals for destruction, a monitoring group
said on Monday.
Fighting in Syria poses a hurdle to implementing
an agreement between Damascus and the Organization for the Prohibition
of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to remove the deadliest chemicals weapons by
the end of the year to be destroyed.
The army started an
offensive in mid-November to secure the highway, which passes through
the mountainous area of Qalamoun, roughly 50 km (30 miles) north of
Damascus, stretches along the Lebanese border and hosts many military
bases and outposts.