A man rides a motorbike past a damaged building in Maaret Al Naaman town in Syria’s Idlib province, yesterday.
BEIRUT: Syria claims it remains committed to destroying its chemical weapons arsenal by mid-2014 despite missing another deadline yesterday.
The delay is being blamed by Syrian officials on the ongoing war with anti-regime militants and comes despite an international agreement brokered last September to avert a US strike, mooted in the aftermath of a chemical attack in east Damascus that killed hundreds and drew global outrage.
Less than 5 percent of Syria’s chemical arsenal, thought to total more than 1,300 tonnes, has been shipped out for destruction.
By now, more than 90 percent should have been surrendered, according to a timeline prescribed by the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Neither body would comment yesterday, saying the situation “spoke for itself”. The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, warned earlier this week that there would be “consequences” if the terms of the deal were not honoured.
The agreement had stipulated that all 500 tonnes of “category two” chemicals were to have been moved to the port of Latakia on Syria’s north-west coast by yesterday. Another 700 tonnes should have left the country by December 31.
Russia, which was instrumental in brokering the deal, played down the delays and said Syria would still move out a large quantity of chemicals by the end of February.