Libya marks destruction of last chemical arms - watchdog

OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu looks on in this file photo. He said that the destruction of the chemical arms “heralds the end of Libya's chemical demilitarisation process”. (Reuters)
Updated 11 January 2018
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Libya marks destruction of last chemical arms - watchdog

THE HAGUE: Libya marked the destruction of its last toxic arms Thursday, hailed by the world's chemical weapons watchdog as a "historic occasion" to make the world a safer place.
The final destruction of some 500 metric tonnes of chemical products at a facility based in Munster in western Germany, was a "historic occasion for disarmament and security," the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said.
"It heralds the end of Libya's chemical demilitarisation process and another step towards fulfilling the core goal of the Chemical Weapons Convention - the complete and permanent eradication of all chemical weapons," director-general Ahmet Uzumcu said in a statement.
The stocks, including 23 tanks of chemicals, were shipped out on a Danish vessel on August 30, 2016, from the Libyan port of Misrata, under the supervision of the United Nations.
The chemical weapons reached the highly specialised facility operated by GEKA, Germany's state-owned company for disposing of chemical weapons, in September 2016.
The OPCW verified the complete destruction of the materials at GEKA on November 23 last year, the OPCW said Thursday at a ceremony held in Munster.
The removal of the dangerous weapons precursors greatly eased fears that extremists like so-called Islamic State terrorists could gain access to the weapons in Libya, which has been wracked by upheaval since the 2011 overthrow of its longtime leader Moamer Kadhafi.
Uzumcu said the "extraordinary" operation to destroy the chemicals "necessitated agility, creativity and above all, close international cooperation."
Libya joined the UN convention banning chemical weapons in 2004 as part of Kadhafi's ultimately abortive efforts to shake off the country's pariah status and mend ties with the West.
At the time Libya joined the convention, it declared 24.7 tonnes of sulphur mustard, 1,390 tonnes of precursor chemicals and more than 3,500 aerial bombs containing chemical weapons.
"The destruction of Libya's remaining Category 2 chemical weapons in the GEKA facility brought the total amount of the Libyan category 2 chemical weapons destroyed to 100 percent," the OPCW said.
"Libya had previously destroyed all of its category 1 and 3 chemical weapons," it added.
More than 96 percent of the world's declared chemical stockpiles have now been destroyed under verification by the OPCW - which received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for its work.


Iraqi forces launch anti-Daesh operation north of Baghdad

Updated 20 July 2019
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Iraqi forces launch anti-Daesh operation north of Baghdad

  • The mainly Shiite PMF have been an effective force against Daesh
  • This is the second phase of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory”

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s military said Saturday its troops in partnership with security agencies and paramilitary forces launched the second phase of an operation aimed at clearing remnants of the Daesh group from north of Baghdad and surrounding areas.
This is the second phase of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory,” which started two weeks earlier and targeted the area along the border with Syria. The military said the new target area is north of Baghdad and in the Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces.
Although Iraq declared victory against Daesh in July 2017, the extremists have turned into an insurgency and continue to carry out deadly attacks in the country.
The military said Iraqi troops, Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, the federal police and others are taking part in the operation supported by the Iraqis and the U.S-led international coalition.
On Saturday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi visited the operation room alongside the deputy head of the PMF, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.
Earlier this month, the Iraqi government moved to place the Iranian-backed militias under the command of the armed forces. The move was believed to be an attempt to curb the powerful militias, particularly amid rising tension between Iran and the US, the power brokers in Iraq.
The mainly Shiite PMF have been an effective force against Daesh and are a significant political force, with government ministers and 48 seats in the 329-member parliament.