Danish, Norwegian ships to collect chemical weapons from Syria

Copenhagen, Jan 4 : Danish and Norwegian warships sailed to Syria Friday to collect its chemical weapons for destruction, said the Danish defence ministry in a statement.

The fleet is led by the Danish warship Esbern Snare, and includes the Norwegian warship Helge Ingstad and one cargo vessel from each country, Xinhua reported.

The operation was originally due to remove the most dangerous of Syria's chemical weapons by Dec 31 last year under a plan agreed upon by the United Nations Security Council. That deadline was missed because the weapons failed to be moved to the Syrian port town of Latakia on time due to poor weather conditions, road closures and moving battle lines in that country.

The fleet left their stations in Cyprus this morning, but the Danish Navy said none of the ships will enter Syrian waters until given approval by UN forces in Syria.

The removal of the chemical weapons is the first step in a deal brokered by the US and Russia that called on the Syrian regime to hand over all of its chemical weapons by mid-2014.

Denmark and Norway agreed Dec 6 to jointly transport chemical weapons out of Syria, under a UN request to provide protection and transport to the UN mission of dismantling Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons.

--IANS (Posted on 04-01-2014)

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