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.


Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

Updated 16 September 2019

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

  • Joint operations planned to prevent attacks ahead of polls

KABUL: Afghan forces backed by US forces killed two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters of the hard-line insurgent group in joint airstrikes conducted in northern and western regions of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry in a statement said that the Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an airstrike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district.

But the Taliban denied the governor had been killed.

“He (Nooruddin) is alive,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.

HIGHLIGHT

Taliban deny the governor of Samangan province had been killed.

Last week, insurgents killed four Afghan special force members in a car bomb blast.

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day.

In a separate incident, Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah was killed in a joint Afghan and foreign force raid.

“Sayed Azim was killed along with 34 other insurgents in Anar Dara,” said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah provincial police.

Senior security officials in Kabul said several joint operations will be launched against Taliban and Daesh fighters to prevent attacks on Afghan forces and civilians ahead of the presidential polls on Sept. 28.

Fighting picked up in several parts of Afghanistan last week after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and opening the way to end to 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. 

 

Troops for polling day

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 72,000 security personnel will be on duty around the 4,942 polling centers across Afghanistan while nearly 30,000 additional troops will serve as reserve units.

Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said security forces have recently taken back eight districts from the Taliban and that operations are underway to secure around 20 others.