UK & World News
Syria: Chemical Weapons Shipment Leaves Port
The first shipment of chemical weapons has been removed from Syria under a deal to rid the country of its chemical arsenal.
The UN mission overseeing the disarmament has confirmed that a Danish vessel is en route to international waters carrying the material.
"A first quantity of priority chemical materials was moved from two sites to the port of Latakia for verification and was then loaded onto a Danish commercial vessel today," the UN said in a statement.
"This movement initiates the process of transfer of chemical materials from the Syrian Arab Republic to locations outside its territory for destruction."
Maritime security is being provided by naval escorts from China, Denmark, Norway and Russia.
The operation to remove Syria's chemical arsenal had been scheduled to take place before December 31.
It was delayed by the country's worsening civil war, and by poor weather and logistical problems.
A UN Security Council-backed deal arranged by the US and Russia 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.
The deal was brokered to head off US military strikes against President Bashar al Assad's regime after hundreds of people were killed last August in a chemical weapons attack outside Damascus.
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