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 »
If you need a marker for how confident Hillary Clinton is at this point of the race, here's one: CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports "she's been talking to Republican senators, old allies and new, saying that she is willing to work with them and govern."
On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines threatened to kick U.S. troops out of the country, adding that if he remains president for more than one term he will move to terminate all military deals with America. Last week, Duterte called for a separation between the two countries, though other government officials immediately said he did not mean that literally.
Sources tell CNN that longtime Democratic operative Ron Klain, who has been Vice President Biden's chief of staff, is "high on the list of prospects" to be chief of staff in a Clinton White House. "John Podesta, the campaign chairman, has signaled his interest in joining the Cabinet, perhaps as Energy secretary."
Last night, the Trump campaign kicked off a Facebook Live talk show "that will air on the candidate’s Facebook page every night at 6:30 pm ET" from Trump Tower. "The show will be hosted by Boris Epshteyn, a senior adviser to the campaign, Tomi Lahren, a conservative commentator for Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, and Cliff Sims, another Trump adviser." Last night's episode saw them interviewing campaign manager KellyAnne Conway and spokesperson/adviser Jason Miller. Epshteyn said it's not a test drive for Trump TV; it's simply a way for the campaign to get its message out without going through the "liberal media."