Watchdog: 80% of Syrian chemical weapons shipped out

UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons say Syria should be able to meet April 27 deadline to hand over chemical agents.

By REUTERS
April 19, 2014 20:59
A UN team examining samples from site of August 21 attack in Damascus.

UN chemical inspectors in Syria 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abdullah)

 
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Syria has shipped out or destroyed approximately 80 percent of its declared chemical weapons material, the head of the international team overseeing the disarmament process said on Saturday.

Sigrid Kaag, special coordinator of the joint mission of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said if the momentum was sustained, Syria should be able to meet its April 27 deadline to hand over all declared chemical agents.

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"The renewed pace in movements is positive and necessary to ensure progress towards a tight deadline," Kaag said.

Syrian President Bashar Assad agreed with the United States and Russia to dispose of the chemical weapons - an arsenal which Damascus had never formally acknowledged - after hundreds of people were killed in a sarin gas attack on the outskirts of the capital last August.

Washington and its Western allies said it was Assad's forces who unleashed the nerve agent, in the world's worst chemical attack in a quarter-century. The government blamed the rebel side in Syria's civil war, which is now in its fourth year.

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