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First chemical weapons leave Syria

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By Chris Harris  with REUTERS
First chemical weapons leave Syria

<p>The first batch of chemical weapons has left Syria, it’s been confirmed.</p> <p>They have been moved from two Syrian sites and onto the port city of Latakia. They were then transferred onto a Danish vessel, which has left the port escorted by ships from <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2013/12/07/denmark-and-norway-to-transport-chemical-weapons-out-of-syria/">China, Denmark, Norway and Russia</a>.</p> <p>They are due to be later taken into international waters for destruction.</p> <p>“The vessel has been accompanied by naval escorts provided by Denmark and Norway, as well as the Syrian Arab Republic,” the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (<span class="caps">OPCW</span>) said in a statement. “It will remain at sea awaiting the arrival of additional priority chemical materials at the port.”</p> <p>Syria <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2013/10/09/syrias-stockpile-of-chemical-weapons-could-be-destroyed-by-june-2014/">agreed to handover its chemical weapons by June</a> after the United States threatened military intervention.</p> <p>Syria <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2014/01/01/syria-misses-chemical-weapons-handover-deadline/">missed its first deadline on December 31</a>, for the removal of the most deadly toxins from the country.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">OPCW</span> did not say what percentage of the “most critical” chemicals, including around 20 tonnes of mustard nerve agent, were on the Danish vessel.<br /> “A first quantity of priority chemical materials was moved from two sites to the port of Latakia for verification and was then loaded onto a Danish commercial vessel today,” the <span class="caps">OPCW</span> statement said. <br /> The Syrian government is responsible for the safe packaging, transport along roads to Latakia – including the main highway from the capital where rebels are still active – and removal of chemical weapons.</p>