DAMASCUS: The first shipment of chemical weapons materials left Latakia port on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) under a deal to rid Syria of its chemical arsenal, the joint mission overseeing the disarmament said.
On the ground, the head of Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front urged an end to four days of clashes between rebels and the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant that has killed at least 274 people.
ISIL responded by calling for all other rebel groups to be “crushed” and also said Syrian opposition politicians were a “legitimate target.”
“A first quantity of priority chemical materials was moved from two sites to the port of Latakia for verification and was then loaded onto a Danish commercial vessel today,” the United Nations-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (UN-OPCW) mission said.
Escorted by Chinese, Danish, Norwegian and Russian naval vessels, the ship will stand offshore until more chemicals arrive at Latakia and then return to collect them.
Tuesday’s shipment “initiates the process of transfer of chemical materials from the Syrian Arab Republic to locations outside its territory for destruction,” the UN-OPCW statement said.
Syria agreed last year to a United States (US)-Russian deal to hand over its chemical weapons.