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Syria chemical weapons 'could be removed by April 13'

Syria's chemical weapons that should be destroyed outside the country could be removed by April 13, a Russian Foreign Ministry official said today, adding there was no need to adjust the timeframe.

Read: Syria to 'send shipment of toxic agents out of country'

"If there are no difficulties then in a month, on April 13, the removal will be practically finished," Mikhail Ulyanov was quoted as saying by RIA news agency.

UN: 'Further progress' over Syria's chemical weapons

Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari revealed plans to destroy its chemical weapons in October. Credit: Reuters

The UN has said "further progress" has been made towards the removal and elimination of the Syria's chemical weapons after the first batch of materials left the country.

In a statement, a spokesman said: "The Joint Mission encourages the Syrian Arab Republic to continue its efforts to complete the removal of chemical materials as soon as possible in a safe and timely manner.

Read: First batch of chemical weapons leaves Syria

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First batch of chemical weapons leaves Syria

Syria has moved the first batch of chemical weapon materials out of the country after transporting it from two sites to the port city of Latakia and onto a Danish vessel, the international chemical weapons watchdog has said.

"The vessel has been accompanied by naval escorts provided by Denmark and Norway, as well as the Syrian Arab Republic," the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement.

"It will remain at sea awaiting the arrival of additional priority chemical materials at the port."

Danish crew runs chemical injury drills in Syrian port

The crew of a Danish warship preparing to transport chemical weapons away from Syrian ran have been practising final emergency drills.

Dressed in full-body protective gear, they simulated the rescue of two people injured by harmful chemicals.

The vessel is docked in the Syrian port of Latakia ready to transport chemical weapons to facilities where they can be made safe.

Russia sends trucks to transport Syria weapons

Russia has sent 25 armoured trucks and 50 other vehicles to Syria to help transport toxins that are to be destroyed under an international agreement to rid the nation of its chemical arsenal, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu (l) with President Vladimir Putin. Credit: REUTERS/Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/

In a report to President Vladimir Putin, Shoigu said Russian aircraft delivered 50 Kamaz trucks and 25 Ural armoured trucks to the Syrian port city of Latakia late last week along with other equipment, state-run news agency RIA reported.

Read: Britain to help destroy chemicals in Syrian stockpile

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'Unknown' if Assad 'declared full chemical arsenal'

Amy Smithson, a chemical weapons expert at the US Monterey Institute, said the harder part of eliminating Syria's loot of chemical weapons lies in the next stage, which involves transporting and eliminating the warfare agents. Speaking to Reuters, Ms Smithson said:

What is unknown at present is whether Assad has declared everything in his arsenal - remember, Gaddafi kept a stash and Saddam tried his best to do the same but was outmaneuvered by savvy, determined inspectors - and to what extent Syrian cooperation will continue.

Read: Syrian weapons equipment 'rendered inoperable'

Syrian weapons equipment 'rendered inoperable'

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has released the following statement regarding the destruction of equipment "critical" to the production of new chemical weapons in Syria:

The Joint Mission is now satisfied that it has verified - and seen destroyed - all of Syria’s declared critical production and mixing/filling equipment.

Given the progress made in the Joint OPCW-UN Mission in meeting the requirements of the first phase of activities, no further inspection activities are currently planned.

The next milestone for the mission will be 15 November, by which time the Executive Council must approve a detailed plan of destruction submitted by Syria to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile.

– opcw statement

Read the full statement here

Syria 'can no longer build' new chemical weapons

The first stage in destroying Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles has been completed, according to an official from the international watchdog OPCW.

OPCW weapons inspectors, seen here in a convoy in Damascus, have verified 21 of 23 sites declared by Syria
OPCW weapons inspectors, seen here in a convoy in Damascus, have verified 21 of 23 sites declared by Syria Credit: REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

The announcement comes a day before the deadline set by the Hague-based organisation to destroy or "render inoperable" all equipment for making new chemical weapons.

Syria's weapons stockpiles - consisting of an estimated 1,000 metric tons of chemicals including mustard gas and the nerve agent sarin - must be destroyed by the middle of next year, under the plan submitted by government.

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