Syrian Chemical Removal Again Falls Behind Schedule

Syrian government tanks roll through a village northeast of Damascus on Monday. Syria's regime missed an April 13 deadline for surrendering the bulk of its chemical-warfare materials, international officials said.
Syrian government tanks roll through a village northeast of Damascus on Monday. Syria's regime missed an April 13 deadline for surrendering the bulk of its chemical-warfare materials, international officials said. (AFP/Getty Images)

International authorities said Syria did not meet a Sunday goal date for sending most of its chemical arms overseas, the Xinhua News Agency reports.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said oversight officials "were concerned" that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime had "missed" the April 13 target for placing the vast bulk of its chemical arms on foreign transport vessels, which are to ship the materials abroad for destruction. The government agreed to relinquish its chemical arsenal in the aftermath of an August nerve-agent attack in a rebel-held Damascus suburb.

Dujarric said disarmament overseers want "an intensification of efforts and immediate action to [remove] all chemical weapons materials as safely as possible by [April 27]."

Officials previously set the last Sunday in April as the cutoff date for the regime to turn over its final chemical weapons, located in two difficult-to-reach locations in the violence-racked nation. Assad's government was originally expected to finish handing over its entire stockpile by early February under the supervision of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Dujarric said any failure to ship out the remainder of the stockpile by April 27 "could have serious impact" on an effort to fully destroy the materials by the end of June.

To date, Assad's government has handed over 57 percent of its deadliest chemicals and 82 percent of its lower-priority warfare substances, OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan told the New York Times for a Monday report.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday said allegations of new chemical strikes in Syria should be "investigated immediately," RIA Novosti reported.

Issue expert Jean Pascal Zanders, though, said other governments would likely limit any response in an effort to avoid disrupting the disarmament process, Time magazine reported on Monday.

April 15, 2014
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International authorities said Syria did not meet a Sunday goal date for sending most of its chemical arms overseas, the Xinhua News Agency reports.

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