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British government says it will help destroy Syria weapons stockpile
December 20, 2013 / 3:19 PM / 4 years ago

British government says it will help destroy Syria weapons stockpile

(Reuters) - Britain has agreed to destroy part of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile at a commercial facility and escort Scandinavian ships transporting the toxic cargo, the British government said on Friday.

An Albanian soldier stands guard in front of containers, which according to officials from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Albania, contain newly-repackaged hazardous chemical waste at a military base in Qafe Molle, some 23 km (14 miles) from capital Tirana November 20, 2013. REUTERS/Arben Celi

Roughly 150 tonnes of industrial chemicals will be transported from Syria by ship to a port in Britain, the Foreign Office said in a statement.

The regime of Bashar al-Assad declared 1,300 tonnes of chemical weapons to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which won the Nobel peace prize this year.

Under a tight deadline agreed with the United States and Russia, Damascus has until December 31 to relinquish the most toxic chemicals. Its entire chemical weapons program must be dismantled by mid-2014.

The deal may have averted U.S. missile strikes threatened after hundreds of people were killed in the outskirts of Damsacus on August 21, the worst poison gas attack in a quarter century.

No company was named by the Foreign Office, but Veolia Environment VE, a French-based firm with chemical incineration plants in Britain, has been approached by the British government, sources said.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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