Syria turned over more warfare chemicals on Tuesday, as overseers counted down to a Sunday deadline for the regime to surrender its final stocks.
The latest chemical-arms shipment out of Syria’s Latakia seaport left President Bashar Assad’s government still holding more than 10 percent of its declared stockpile five days before the cutoff date established by international authorities.
A United Nations spokesman last week said failure to meet the Sunday deadline could significantly diminish the likelihood that other governments would finish destroying the materials in the first half of this year, as mandated by the U.N. Security Council.
Syria’s disarmament effort has proceeded in fits and starts. The government missed a goal to finish placing its warfare materials on foreign ships by early February, and last week, the regime fell short of a new April 13 deadline for sending out its stocks from all but the hardest-to-access locations.
Still, the head of an international watchdog agency said Tuesday’s handover — the Damascus government’s 17th to date — was “encouraging.”
“We hope that the remaining two or three consignments are delivered quickly to permit destruction operations to get underway in time to meet the mid-year deadline for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons,” Ahmet Üzümcü, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said in a statement.
Üzümcü’s agency, which is overseeing the disarmament process in cooperation with the United Nations, said Assad’s government has now turned over 88.7 percent of its deadliest warfare chemicals and 86.5 percent of its total stockpile.
The regime agreed to relinquish hundreds of tons of chemical-warfare materials last year, when it faced possible international military action after hundreds died from a release of sarin nerve agent in a Damascus suburb in August.
Meanwhile, the chemical agency on Tuesday announced it was starting an initial review of claims that chlorine was used during combat in Syria this month, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Syria’s chemical-arms shipments for elimination do not include the common industrial substance, but its use in warfare is banned under an international chemical-arms treaty that Assad’s government joined last year.
What We're Following See More »
Special counsel Robert Mueller "is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation." A source tells ABC News that "Mueller's investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter."
"President Donald Trump would not insist on including repeal of an Obama-era health insurance mandate in a bill intended to enact the biggest overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s, a senior White House aide said on Sunday. The version of tax legislation put forward by Senate Republican leaders would remove a requirement in former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law that taxes Americans who decline to buy health insurance."
"Members of Congress with histories of mistreating women should be extremely nervous. Major outlets, including CNN, are dedicating substantial newsroom resources to investigating sexual harassment allegations against numerous lawmakers. A Republican source told me he's gotten calls from well-known D.C. reporters who are gathering stories about sleazy members."
"Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who wrote the explosive dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump and Russia," says in a new book by The Guardian's Luke Harding that "Trump's land and hotel deals with Russians needed to be examined. ... Steele did not go into further detail, Harding said, but seemed to be referring to a 2008 home sale to the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev. Richard Dearlove, who headed the UK foreign-intelligence unit MI6 between 1999 and 2004, said in April that Trump borrowed money from Russia for his business during the 2008 financial crisis."