Syria chemical weapons may be destroyed at sea

Updated 27 November 2013

Syria chemical weapons may be destroyed at sea

THE HAGUE: Syria’s over 1,000 tons of chemical weapons could be destroyed at sea if no country agrees to dispose of them on its soil, the world’s chemical watchdog said Wednesday.
“This possibility has been looked at for some time already,” Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) spokesman Christian Chartier told AFP of destroying the chemicals at sea.
“It’s still being looked at and is one of several solutions envisaged by member states and as long as a decision has not been taken, it remains a possibility,” Chartier said.
“This possibility doesn’t exclude the fact that member states continue to think about the possibility of destroying them on land,” Chartier added.
The world is in agreement about destroying Syria’s chemical weapons as part of a US-Russia deal aimed at heading off strikes on the Damascus regime after deadly chemical attacks in August.
But despite consensus on destroying the chemicals outside war-wracked Syria, no country has yet been found ready to have them destroyed on its soil.
Syria is cooperating with the disarmament operation and has already said it had approximately 1,290 tons of chemical weapons and precursors, or ingredients, as well as over 1,000 unfilled chemical munitions, meaning shells, rockets or mortars.
Expert Jean-Pascal Zanders said that chemical weapons were incinerated on ships after the Second World War, but “I’m not sure these incinerator ships still exist.”
“One of the concerns with such incinerators is the production of toxic stuff that then gets into the sea, the food chain, including dioxins and so forth,” Zanders told AFP.
The OPCW’s Executive Council on Friday approved a final roadmap for ridding Syria of its arsenal by mid-2014, with a plan on how to destroy them out of the country, on land or at sea, to be approved by Dec. 17.
A team of UN-OPCW inspectors has been on the ground since October checking Syria’s weapons and facilities.
Destruction of declared chemical weapons production facilities was completed last month and all chemicals and precursors placed under seal, the OPCW said last month ahead of a November 1 deadline backed by a UN Security Council resolution.
Some chemical weapons are destroyed through a process known as hydrolysis, in which agents, like detergents, are used to neutralize blistering chemicals such as mustard gas and sulphur.
Nerve gases such as sarin are often better destroyed through incineration. Disarmament expert Zanders said that the dumping of chemical-filled munitions at sea was “routine” before the 1980 Oslo Treaty prohibited it.


Eastern Libya forces say 16 Turkish soldiers killed in fighting

Updated 23 February 2020

Eastern Libya forces say 16 Turkish soldiers killed in fighting

BENGHAZI: Forces loyal to Libyan eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar said on Sunday they had killed 16 Turkish soldiers in recent weeks, a day after Turkey acknowledged it had lost several "martyrs" in combat in the north African country.
Khalid al-Mahjoub, a spokesman for Haftar's Libya National Army (LNA), said the Turks were killed in the port city of Misrata, in battles in Tripoli and in the town of al-Falah south of the capital.
Turkey backs Libya's weak internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and has sent Syrian soldiers along with some of its own soldiers and weapons.
Haftar's forces are backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday acknowleged some Turkish losses in Libya's "struggle".
"We are there (in Libya) with our (Turkish) soldiers and our teams from the Syrian National Army. We continue the struggle there. We have several martyrs. In return, however, we neutralized nearly a hundred (of Haftar's) legionaries," Erdogan said.
The Syrian National Army, also known as Free Syrian Army, is a Turkey-backed Syrian rebel group fighting against pro-Damascus forces in northern Syria, where 16 Turkish soldiers have been killed so far this month.
The deployment of Turkish soldiers and sophisticated air defences has erased small gains made by the LNA with the help of Russian mercenaries, returning the frontline roughly to where it was at start of Haftar's campaign in April 2019.
Ceasefire talks between Libya's warring sides resumed on Thursday after the GNA had pulled out of negotiations following the shelling of Tripoli's port by Haftar's forces.