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Nordic ships forced return to Limassol

1 January 2014

Bad weather, altering battle lines and road closures are causing delays for Norwegian and Danish ships, which are waiting to remove Syria’s chemical weapons. The ships have had to return to Limassol which means that the crucial deadline will be missed.

The international mission charged with the task of the removal of Syria’s deadly chemical weapons haul, has been waiting for the arrival of the chemicals at Latakia port.

The time frame to rid Syria of its chemical weapons by 2014, was negotiated by Russia and the US after three towns around Damascus were subjected to a sarin gas attack, killing many hundreds of people, was the first stage in an exercise to rid Syria of its chemical weapons arsenal by the middle of 2014.

Western powers said only Syrian government forces could have carried out the attack, but President Bashar al-Assad blamed rebel fighters.

Under the international disarmament plan, US satellites and Chinese surveillance cameras are to track the progress of Russian armoured lorries as they carry the chemical weapons from 12 storage sites in Syria’s main port of Latakia, on Syria’s Mediterranean coast.

The vessels left Limassol on Saturday but turned back on Tuesday after the hazardous containers failed to arrive for collection in Latakia.

A spokesman for the Norwegian armed forces has said that two container vessels, along with warship escorts, had been deployed to carry the toxic cargo to be destroyed under international supervision.

Syria is believed to have a stockpile of 1,000 tonnes of chemical agents which include Sarin and the even more powerful nerve agent VX.

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