Syria’s government has stopped transferring chemical arms to a coastal pickup point, citing threats from a nearby rebel incursion, Reuters reports.
Shipments of warfare chemicals into Syria’s Latakia province halted after March 20, the United Nations indicated on Thursday. To explain the stoppage, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime referenced an opposition offensive launched around that time near the provincial capital, where foreign vessels are taking the materials for destruction outside the war-devastated nation.
Assad’s chief U.N. delegate said the suspension may force additional lags in a schedule for relinquishing the government’s chemical stockpile. Damascus agreed to support the arsenal’s dismantlement after an August nerve-gas strike raised the prospect of foreign military intervention, and international authorities are pushing to fully eliminate the hazardous materials by the end of June.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari said disarmament efforts would fall further behind schedule “unless the security situation evolves in the right direction.”
U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq, though, said overseers pressed Assad’s government “to resume [chemical] movements as soon as possible in order to meet the timelines.”
Sigrid Kaag, the international disarmament effort’s special coordinator, said Damascus earlier this week communicated an intention to restart shipments to the Latakia seaport “in coming days,” according to participants in a U.N. Security Council briefing on Thursday.
Kaag reportedly said that if shipments restarted right away, it would still be possible to finish removing the chemicals this month and fully eliminate them by June. She added, though, that the schedule is growing more daunting, according to insiders.
Shipping out materials now packaged at three sites would bring the portion of removed stocks to roughly 90 percent, envoys quoted Kaag as saying.
Meanwhile, rebels said Assad’s forces on Thursday released warfare chemicals on the Damascus suburb of Jobar, Reuters reported separately. Earlier this week, the government said opposition forces in the neighborhood were plotting a chemical attack.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."