(Updates with successful completion of transfer operation)
ROME, July 2 A Danish ship carrying some of
Syria's most dangerous chemical agents transferred them on
Wednesday to an American cargo vessel equipped with special gear
to neutralise them at sea, officials said.
The operation was successfully completed in the southern
Italian port of Gioia Tauro, the Italian environment ministry
said, after a series of delays in the internationally-backed
plan to destroy the Damascus government's stock of chemical
The containers were transferred from the Danish vessel Ark
Future, which had brought the agents from Syria, to the
converted U.S. container ship Cape Ray.
Cape Ray will sail them into the middle of the Mediterranean
over the next few days and start turning them into a much less
poisonous soup of chemicals, ready for disposal back on land,
officials from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical
Experts have said the process could take between 60 to 90
days, depending on the weather.
The Damascus government, fighting a more than three-year-old
civil war, agreed to hand over its stockpile, which includes
precursors for the deadly nerve agent sarin, under a deal backed
by Washington and Moscow in September.
The agreement averted U.S. military strikes after hundreds
of people were killed in a sarin gas attack in the outskirts of
Syria's capital, Damascus.
Last month, Syria handed over the remaining 8 percent of the
1,300 tonnes it declared to the OPCW, which is monitoring the
The Syrian government had said fighting delayed the transfer
of the last parts of its stockpile. The Cape Ray had been docked
in southern Spain for weeks.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella and Gavin Jones; Editing by