Global Security Newswire
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West to Reject Syrian Request for Chemical-Transfer Gear: Report
Western countries plan to block a Syrian-government push to obtain a range of technology for transporting chemical-warfare materials to a coastal city under international plans to eliminate them, Reuters on Monday quoted envoys as saying.
The Western nations reportedly fear Damascus could use the systems -- which include armor-plated automobiles, power generators and communications systems -- to help combat rebel forces in Syria's raging civil war. Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime asked for the items in a "shopping list" sent on Oct. 21 to the Organization for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons, according to envoys from two Western governments.
The international watchdog agency is helping to oversee a fast-track push to eliminate the government's chemical arsenal. Assad admitted possessing chemical weapons and agreed to their destruction in September, after a nerve-gas attack weeks earlier raised the possibility of U.S. military intervention in his country's civil war.
"There is no way that the regime will be supplied with equipment that could be used by the army to kill more innocent Syrians," said one envoy for a nation empowered to prevent consensus on the issue at the 41-nation OPCW Executive Council. "It's not going to happen."
Another Western-nation diplomat said Damascus "will not get [the requested equipment] from us and I don't think the U.N., or EU which has applied sanctions, will do so either."
Assad's government said it would use the requested systems to help transfer 1,300 tons of weapon-usable substances to the coastal city of Latakia. The warfare materials are expected to be transferred by boat to a still-undetermined country for destruction.
One envoy suggested Western countries might be open to providing flatbed vehicles or other alternative support gear to Assad's regime. The diplomat suggested the West could also push for such equipment to be removed from Syria along with the chemicals, eliminating the possibility that the gear could aid the war effort.
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