Removal of Syrian Chemical Unlikely Before Deadline
Damascus: The joint United Nations (UN) Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) mission in Syria said Saturday the transportation of the most critical chemical materials out of Syria before the December 31 deadline is unlikely due to the volatility in overall security conditions in the country.
In a statement issued Saturday, the joint mission said: "Preparations continue in readiness for the transport of most of the critical chemical materials from the Syrian Arab Republic for outside destruction. However, at this stage, transportation of the most critical chemical materials before December 31 is unlikely."
"Logistical challenges coupled with inclement weather have contributed to this delay," the statement added.
Despite the volatile situation in Syria and the significant challenges ahead, UN-OPCW Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag called upon all parties to the Syrian conflict to ensure the timely removal and continued destruction of the country's declared chemical weapons program, according to the statement.
The UN Security Council and the OPCW Executive Council established timelines for the removal and elimination of Syria's chemical weapons by the end of June 2014.
The chemical materials are set to be shipped outside the country via Syria's coastal city of Latakia and destroyed on a ship at sea. Russia has reportedly sent special vehicles to help the Syria government transport the materials from different parts of the country to Latakia.
One of the weapon's transportation lines is from Damascus to Latakia, which passes three highly dangerous areas — namely Adra, al-Nabk, and Qarah.
Last week, Syria's Foreign Ministry said government forces had repelled a series of rebel attacks on sites, where chemical weapons are held.
Armed groups reportedly used vehicles equipped with heavy machine-guns during the assaults in central and southern areas of the country.
The foreign ministry said the attacks were carried out by the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, and the so-called Islam Brigade, accusing the rebels' regional patrons of providing the jihadists on the ground with the coordinates of the weapons' locations