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OPCW: Second Shipment of Chemical Weapons Removed from Syria

Watchdog organization overseeing destruction of Syria's chemical weapons announces that operation continues despite airstrike.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 1/28/2014, 2:42 AM

UN chemical weapons experts in Syria.
UN chemical weapons experts in Syria.
Reuters

The Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced Monday that a second shipment of Syria's arsenal has been removed, despite rumors of an Israeli airstrike on the transport site earlier this week. 

"Today, a further shipment of chemical weapons materials took place from the Syrian Arab Republic," the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement. "The chemical materials were verified by Joint Mission personnel before being loaded in Latakia port onto Danish and Norwegian cargo vessels for onward transportation."

"The vessels were accompanied by a naval escort provided by the People’s Republic of China, Denmark, Norway and the Russian Federation," the statement continued. "The Joint Mission looks forward to the Syrian Arab Republic continuing its efforts to complete the removal of its chemical weapons materials in a safe, secure and timely manner, in line with OPCW Executive Council decisions and UN Security Council Resolution."

The announcement follows reports earlier Monday that the Israeli Air Force (IAF) may be responsible for the bombing of several S-300 missiles at a Latakia military base. The explosions were confirmed by Syrian opposition forces but denied by the IDF; in any event, the explosions apparently have not delayed the UN operation. 

An international operation to destroy Syria’s stockpile of deadly chemicals is currently underway, and is a joint Russian-U.S. Syrian chemical plan thatwas endorsed by the UN Security Council in September.

The resolution was a last-minute measure to prevent an American strike on Syria in retaliation for the regime's alleged use of chemical weapons in an attack on a Damascus suburb in August that left hundreds dead.

War, bad weather, bureaucracy and technical issues delayed a December 31 deadline for the removal of the most deadly toxins from Syria. Despite the delays, the first batch of chemical weapon materials was moved out of the country earlier this month - and the OPCW is apparently determined to remain on schedule.