From BBC: The first consignment of Syrian chemical weapons materials has left the country on a Danish ship.
The vessel left the northern Syrian port of Latakia on Tuesday, escorted by Russian and Chinese warships.
Removing the most dangerous chemicals is the first step of a UN-backed deal to eliminate Syria’s chemical arsenal. . . .
In a statement on Tuesday, the UN confirmed that a small number of containers with “priority one chemical materials” were on board the Ark Futura cargo ship, one of two vessels in charge of collecting the materials.
They will wait in international waters for additional chemicals to be delivered to Latakia for collection.
A spokeswoman said the loading took only “a couple of hours”, but this delicate phase of the operation had been “months in the planning.”
From Diaa Hadid and Mike Corder, AP: The chemicals were supposed to have been removed from Syria by Dec. 31, but poor security, bad weather and other factors meant the deadline was missed by a week.
The raw materials — precursor chemicals for poison gas — were moved to the government-held port of Latakia from two sites in Syria and loaded onto the Danish cargo ship, which then set sail, said Sigrid Kaag, the Dutch diplomat coordinating the joint mission by the U.N. and Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
“The vessel has now left the port of Latakia for international waters,” Kaag said in a statement. “It will remain at sea awaiting the arrival of additional priority chemical materials at the port.”
Security for the highly toxic cargo is being provided by warships from Russia, China, Denmark and Norway.