BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Russia said on Monday its navy was ready to escort ships removing Syria’s deadly chemical stockpile, which is due to be destroyed at sea under an international deal.
Syria agreed to relinquish control of deadly toxins which can be used to make sarin, VX gas and other lethal agents in the agreement forged in the wake of an attack on the outskirts of Damascus which killed hundreds last August.
Denmark and Norway are planning to use two cargo vessels to take the chemicals out of the Syrian port city of Latakia, escorted by two frigates from their navies.
“We will be ready to provide Russian navy ships to escort those vessels with toxic agents in order to provide the safety of this operation,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters after meeting his EU counterparts in Brussels.
Moscow would also help move the chemicals over land to the Syrian port, he added.
The chemicals will be destroyed at sea on board a specially adapted U.S. ship because they are too dangerous to import into a country. There is no agreement yet on where the ship will anchor while the work is carried out.
Syria’s 2-1/2-year civil war has killed at least 125,835 people, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and more than 2 million refugees have fled, often overwhelming neighboring countries.
Writing By Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Andrew Heavens