BEIRUT, April 27 Syria appeared to have missed a
self-imposed deadline to get rid of all its chemical weapons by
April 27, as the United Nations announced that more than 92
percent of the arsenal had been shipped out of the country or
The UN deadline for the total destruction of Syria's
chemical weapons is June 30, but the government had vowed to
complete the removal of its 1,300 tonnes of chemical substances
on April 27, after missing several deadlines.
Sigrid Kaag, head of the joint mission of the United Nations
and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,
told reporters in Damascus that the UN hoped Syria would meet
the June deadline.
"Few days ago we were able to announce and confirm that over
92 percent of Syria chemical weapons stockpile has been removed
or destroyed in the country. This is significant," she said.
"(Also) a total of 18 removal operations have been carried
out ...and always with due regard for the environment and public
safety," she added.
The chemicals are being transported to the Mediterranean
port of Latakia and loaded onto Norwegian and Danish ships for
transport from Syria to the Italian port Gioia Tauro, where they
will be transferred to a ship equipped to destroy the agents and
turn them into low-toxicity effluent.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, locked in a three-year
conflict with rebels seeking to topple him, agreed to destroy
his chemical weapons after hundreds of people were killed in a
sarin gas attack last year in the outskirts of Damascus.
Both the government and the rebels blamed each other for
such attacks. Syria has vowed to hand over or destroy its entire
arsenal by the end of this week.
Kaag urged the government to destroy the remaining chemical
material "in shortest possible time frame".
"If this is achieved ... then Syria has indeed successfully
acquitted itself of a major obligation that is a focus of much
(Reporting by Mariam Karouny; Editing by Stephen Powell)