International officials said Syria appears poised to miss a March 15 target date for eliminating a dozen chemical-arms manufacturing sites, Reuters reports.
States parties to an international chemical-weapons ban called last year for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government to finish eliminating the 12 sites by the middle of this month. That goal is now out of reach, according to Thursday comments from sources at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
“That [deadline] will definitely be missed,” one insider told the wire service. “None of them have been destroyed at the moment.”
The source described seven of the facilities as “hardened” airplane storage sites, and five of the locations as underground installations. At a meeting of the 41-nation OPCW Executive Council this week, multiple Western envoys rejected a Syrian government proposal to close off the sites with cement rather than fully demolish them, according to agency insiders.
“The physical destruction of CW production facilities is a fundamental requirement of the [Chemical Weapons] Convention, and a prudent protection against the retainment or restart of a chemical-weapons program,” U.S. Ambassador Robert Mikulak said to the body in prepared remarks.
Assad regime’s pledged to relinquish its chemical-warfare stockpile and related assets when it faced accusations of releasing sarin nerve agent over an opposition-held suburb of Damascus, allegedly killing more than 1,400 people in August.
“Destroyed means destroyed,” a source told Reuters. “Why should a country that used chemical weapons against its own people be given special privileges?”
Assad’s government never accepted blame for the Aug. 21 strike, and Russia has backed the denials by its partner in Damascus.
What We're Following See More »
"Senate GOP leaders picked up support Wednesday for their plan to pass a scaled-back bill to repeal a handful of elements in the current health law, and then open negotiations with House Republicans to try to bring together their two very different bills."
"Paul Manafort, who served as a top aide to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, on Tuesday provided congressional investigators notes he took during a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer that has emerged as a focus in the investigation of Russian interference in the election. Manafort’s submission, which came as he was interviewed in a closed session by staff members for the Senate Intelligence Committee, could offer a key contemporaneous account of the June 2016 session."
By the narrowest of margins, the Senate voted 51-50 this afternoon to begin debate on the House's legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins defected from the GOP, but Vice President Pence broke a tie. Sen. John McCain returned from brain surgery to cast his vote.