Russia: Extremists Struck Syrian Chemical-Arms Shipment

Global Security Newswire Staff
Jan. 31, 2014, 5:53 a.m.

A Rus­si­an of­fi­cial said ex­trem­ists un­suc­cess­fully tar­geted a chem­ic­al-arms ship­ment pri­or to its re­mov­al from Syr­ia this week, the Voice of Rus­sia re­ports.

“Dur­ing the re­mov­al of the second con­sign­ment of chem­ic­al weapons on Jan. 27, 2014, the con­voy car­ry­ing them was at­tacked by mil­it­ants. The at­tack was de­feated,” Rus­si­an For­eign Min­istry Se­cur­ity and Dis­arm­a­ment De­part­ment Dir­ect­or Mikhail Uly­an­ov said in com­ments re­por­ted on Fri­day.

Uly­an­ov de­scribed the pos­sible strike as he ar­gued that Syr­ia’s gov­ern­ment is jus­ti­fied in mov­ing slowly to send its chem­ic­al-war­fare stocks out of the con­flict-torn na­tion. The United States on Thursday ac­cused Mo­scow’s ally in Dam­as­cus of de­lib­er­ately delay­ing ship­ments in the in­ter­na­tion­al op­er­a­tion to fully elim­in­ate its chem­ic­al ar­sen­al by the end of June.

The Rus­si­an of­fi­cial at­trib­uted the ef­fort’s slow pace to “the un­fa­vor­able se­cur­ity situ­ation on the route for trans­port­ing chem­ic­al weapons com­pon­ents … to Latakia,” where they are to be picked up by for­eign trans­port ves­sels and trans­ferred over­seas for de­struc­tion, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

“We see that the Syr­i­ans are ap­proach­ing the ful­fill­ment of their ob­lig­a­tions ser­i­ously and in good faith,” the wire ser­vice sep­ar­ately quoted him as say­ing in an in­ter­view with In­ter­fax.

Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s gov­ern­ment is “com­plain­ing about in­suf­fi­cient ma­ter­i­al and tech­nic­al sup­port from the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity,” noted Uly­an­ov, de­scrib­ing the re­cent con­voy at­tack­ers as “rad­ic­al op­pos­i­tion.” “It is not ruled out that Rus­sia will be able to al­loc­ate something ad­di­tion­al,” the Voice of Rus­sia quoted him as say­ing.

Wash­ing­ton and in­ter­na­tion­al au­thor­it­ies, though, this week said Dam­as­cus already has suf­fi­cient equip­ment to move the ma­ter­i­als faster.

“While the two ship­ments (of chem­ic­als) this month rep­res­ent a start, the need for the pro­cess to pick up pace is ob­vi­ous,” Ah­met Üzüm­cü, dir­ect­or gen­er­al of the Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons, told his agency’s 41-na­tion gov­ern­ing body on Thursday.

“Ways and means must be found to es­tab­lish con­tinu­ity and pre­dict­ab­il­ity of ship­ments to as­sure states parties that the pro­gram, while delayed, is not de­ferred,” he ad­ded in pre­pared com­ments.

In­ter­na­tion­al con­cerns grew over the use of chem­ic­al arms in Syr­ia fol­low­ing an Au­gust sar­in-gas strike in a Dam­as­cus sub­urb held by As­sad’s op­pon­ents. Weeks later, his gov­ern­ment ac­know­ledged hold­ing chem­ic­al arms and pledged to re­lin­quish the stock­pile.

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