Middle East

Syria chemicals removal 92.5% complete: OPCW

chemical weaponSyria has removed nearly 93 percent of its chemical weapons and could finish shipping out the toxic agents by the Sunday deadline, international inspectors said.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced on Friday that 92.5% of the chemicals have been removed from Syria.

“I welcome the significant progress of the last three weeks, and I strongly encourage the Syrian authorities to conclude the removal,” said Sigrid Kaag, who heads the international mission overseeing the Syrian disarmament effort.

The remaining chemicals are in a storage site that Damascus has identified as presenting security issues, diplomats said.

Kaag told the United Nations Security Council earlier this week she was “reasonably optimistic” the Syrians will meet the deadline, according to Mark Lyall Grant, the British ambassador to the United Nations.

Critics, including some in the Syrian opposition, are annoyed with the development and tried to undermine the goodwill showed by the Syrian government.

Once all the chemicals are delivered, they will be taken to a US vessel called the MV Cape Ray and will be broken down at sea using hydrolysis, a process which is expected to take 90 days.

On September 14, 2013, Russia and the United States agreed on a deal under which Syria would have its chemical weapons eliminated.

The deal averted a controversial US decision to wage a military strike against Syria over an August 21 chemical attack that the Syrian government said was a false-flag operation by foreign-backed insurgents in the country, trying to topple the Damascus government.

Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011. An estimated 140,000 people have reportedly been killed and millions displaced due to the violence fueled by the Western-backed insurgents.

According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — are supporting the insurgents operating inside Syria.

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