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Syria surrenders almost half chemical arsenal: OPCW

File - Volunteers wear gas masks during a class on how to respond to a chemical attack, in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on September 15, 2013. (AFP PHOTO / JM LOPEZ)

THE HAGUE: Syria has removed almost half of its chemical arsenal from the war-torn country, the world’s chemical watchdog said Wednesday, including its entire stock of lethal mustard gas.

Two shipments have in the last week been transferred from the port of Latakia to Norwegian and Danish vessels for destruction outside the country, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement.

Syria has now handed over its entire stock of mustard gas, the only chemical agent Damascus had that did not require mixing to be used, the OPCW said.

Despite having shipped 45.6 percent of its Category 1 and Category 2 chemicals, Syria remains behind schedule for the destruction of its entire stockpile by June 30.

The OPCW earlier this month noted that Syria had increased the pace of removing or destroying its arsenal after missing critical deadlines. Syria was to have shipped out most dangerous Category 1 chemicals by Dec. 31 and Category 2 chemicals by Feb. 5.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 20, 2014, on page 8.

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