Syria Asks for International Aid to Destroy Chemical Weapons
Syria has reportedly appealed for international aid in order to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal safely and correctly, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Syrian deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad stated to reporters Monday that Syria needs armored vehicles and other equipment to move the chemicals for destruction, and warned that if such equipment was not provided, "it will be difficult if not impossible for Syria" to destroy the weapons.
Mekdad's statements followed a meeting between Syrian ministers and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Monday, where he decried efforts by "terrorists" to use the weapons, conspicuously omitting any mention of weapons use by Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Earlier this month, the Nobel-prize winning organization finalized plans to destroy the entire 1000+ weapons arsenal by mid-2014. As the Herald notes, this is the first OPCW attempt to disarm a nation in the middle of a civil war.
OPCW teams have inspected 21 of Syria’s 23 chemical weapons site. The remaining two sites were deemed too dangerous to inspect due to fighting in the area, but equipment at those two sites has been moved elsewhere and inspected there.
Saturday, US officials announced that they would be destroying the weapons at sea, according to the OPCW's specifications. Norway also offered logistical support and naval eqiupment for the operation, though it refused to carry out the directive on its own soil.
Apparently, the pledges are not sufficient, however, as Syrian officials have expressed concern for the operation's security.
Dutch diplomat Sigrid Kaag, who leads the joint United Nations-OPCW mission in Syria, stated Monday that the crucial highway linking Damascus and Homs was closed recently as she visited the port of Latakia in a helicopter. The highway, which has been the scene of a months-long government offensive against rebels, is a key artery to coastal ports.
"To get the material to port, it is necessary that roads are open and are safe and secure to use," Kaag said.