News / Middle East

Ships Turn Back as Syria Chemical Removal Deadline Passes

A security forces member stands guard aboard the Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad, in Limassol, Cyprus, Dec. 28, 2013.
A security forces member stands guard aboard the Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad, in Limassol, Cyprus, Dec. 28, 2013.
VOA News
Norwegian and Danish naval teams, on their way to remove chemical weapons from Syria, have turned back and are heading for Cyprus as an end-of-year deadline to remove most of the toxins from the war-torn country passed unmet.

A spokesman for the Norwegian armed forces told VOA that two container vessels, along with warship escorts, had been deployed to carry the toxic cargo for the destruction process under international supervision.

He said the ships were preparing for a refueling stop in the Cypriot port of Limassol ahead of a likely return to Syria "after the New Year."

An official from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said security concerns and bureaucracy are the primary reasons President Bashar al-Assad's government missed Tuesday's deadline.

Bad weather and a complex multinational procurement effort for equipment have also delayed the operation.

For now, the delay is not raising concern in Washington, which characterized the deadline as ambitious. The State Department said it was satisfied to see "forward progress."

The New York Times, citing sources with the mission to remove the weapons, reported earlier that Syria apparently has not begun to move weapons toward the port staging areas.

The Syrian government agreed to allow the U.N. and the OPCW access to its chemical weapons arsenal for destruction at sea.

On November 15, the OPCW outlined a plan to have many of the most deadly weapons moved out by December 31 and ensure that Syria destroys its entire chemical arsenal by the middle of 2014.

Mission officials and analysts told VOA that the initial phase of the plan involves Syria packaging and transporting the weapons over land across Syria to Latakia, its major port on the Mediterranean Sea.

The Danish and Norwegian cargo ships will then transport the material from the port to a yet-to-be designated Italian destination.

There the weapons will be loaded onto the U.S. Navy vessel Cape Ray, which has been outfitted with equipment to neutralize the chemicals. The destruction is then scheduled to take place at sea.

Russia is providing armored trucks, water tanks and other logistical supplies for the land operation in Syria. Moscow also has said it will provide security for the operation at Latakia and in Syrian territorial waters.

China will be part of the initial military escort to Italy, and also will provide surveillance cameras and 10 ambulances to the operation.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid