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Syria

OPCW: nearly half of Syria’s chemical weapons removed

Syria has dismantled nearly half of its chemical weapons stockpile. While behind schedule, it could still meet the June 30 deadline afterall, says the Organisation for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The OPCW announced on Thursday that Syria had removed 45.6 percent of its chemical weapons and shipped them to other countries to be destroyed. The list included so-called Category 1 chemical arms, which are the most dangerous, agents from the less danger Category 2 and mustard gas.

"Two shipments have in the last week been transferred from the [Syrian] port of Latakia to Norwegian and Danish vessels for destruction outside the country," the OPCW said in a statement.

Under a US-Russia deal, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed to dismantle his arsenal of chemical weapons. International outcry over a chemical weapons attack near Damascus last August prompted the US to threaten military action against Syria. Assad then accepted a compromise to relinquish the stockpile by mid-2014.

However, the ongoing war in Syria has undermined security at the port, thereby hindering shipments from leaving the country, according to Assad's government.

"Syria is behind the timeline schedule, but it might catch up on the deadline," OPCW spokesperson Michael Luhan told the DPA news agency.

The civil war in Syria entered its third year in this month. There, anti-governments rebels have been engaged in heavy fighting with the Assad regime in an attempt to force his removal from power. The violence has displaced millions within Syria and driven over 2 million into neighboring countries. The latest UN and Arab League-mediated attempts to end the fighting failed, with the two sides unwilling to hold talks in the same room.

kms/pfd (Reuters, dpa)

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