The Last of Assad’s Known Chemical Weapons Are Now Out of Syria

A member of the Danish military dons a protective mask while carrying out emergency drills aboard a frigate, on January 3, 2014.

Petros Karadjias/AP

AA Font size + Print

A member of the Danish military dons a protective mask while carrying out emergency drills aboard a frigate, on January 3, 2014.

After multiple missed deadlines, some 1,300 tons of declared chemical weapons have finally been removed from the deeply troubled nation, but questions remain about whether that was really all of it. By Diane Barnes

A top investigator said Syria has surrendered the final chemical arms it admitted to holding, but any secret arsenal may allow gas attacks to continue.

The last of the remaining chemicals identified for removal from Syria were loaded this afternoon aboard the Danish ship Ark Futura,” said Ahmet Üzümcü, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The final tanks of potentially lethal warfare substances reportedly had been locked in place by fighting around Damascus.

Monday’s development bookends a months-long international campaign to remove roughly 1,300 metric tons of chemical-warfare materials from the violence-racked Middle Eastern nation. President Bashar Assad’s government agreed to relinquish the stockpile last year, after nerve gas killed hundreds of people in a Damascus suburb and prompted threats of foreign intervention in Syria’s civil war.

Never before has an entire arsenal of a category of weapons of mass destruction been removed from a country experiencing a state of internal armed conflict,” Üzümcü said in a statement to reporters. “And this has been accomplished within very demanding and tight timeframes.”

The disarmament effort encountered months of delays, though, and an international mandate to destroy the stockpile this month is now out of reach. Üzümcü last week said extending the deadline is out of the question, and the U.N. Security Council would consider how to respond, the Daily Sabah reported on Monday.

The chemical-arms watchdog chief added that his agency still has work to do in Syria. It remains unclear whether Assad’s regime may be hiding more warfare chemicals, and Üzümcü urged the government to continue supporting an investigation into possible strikes with undeclared toxic gas.

We hope to conclude soon the clarification of certain aspects of the Syrian declaration and commence the destruction of certain structures that were used as chemical-weapons production facilities,” he added in his Monday announcement. Damascus denies it ever used chemical agents in combat, and blames opposition forces for any attacks with substances controlled under an international treaty it signed last year.

Meanwhile, a shipment of Syrian chemical-warfare stocks arrived in Finland on Saturday, Yle Uutiset reported. The stockpile’s deadliest portion is slated for delivery to the southern Italian port of Gioia Tauro, where it would be moved onto a specially equipped U.S. vessel for destruction.

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Top 5 Findings: Security of Internet of Things To Be Mission-Critical

    As federal agencies increasingly leverage these capabilities, government security stakeholders now must manage and secure a growing number of devices, including those being used remotely at the “edge” of networks in a variety of locations. With such security concerns in mind, Government Business Council undertook an indepth research study of federal government leaders in January 2017. Here are five of the key takeaways below which, taken together, paint a portrait of a government that is increasingly cognizant and concerned for the future security of IoT.

  • Coordinating Incident Response on Posts, Camps and Stations

    Effective incident response on posts, camps, and stations is an increasingly complex challenge. An effective response calls for seamless conversations between multiple stakeholders on the base and beyond its borders with civilian law enforcement and emergency services personnel. This whitepaper discusses what a modern dispatch solution looks like -- one that brings together diverse channels and media, simplifies the dispatch environment and addresses technical integration challenges to ensure next generation safety and response on Department of Defense posts, camps and stations.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.