Danish ships en route to Syria
Warship Esbern Snare leading charge to collect chemical weapons
Danish and Norwegian ships set sail toward Syria this morning to collect that country’s chemical weapons.
Led by the Danish war ship Esbern Snare, the fleet also includes the Norwegian war ship Helge Ingstad and and one cargo vessel from each country.
The operation was originally due to remove the most dangerous of Syria’s chemical weapons by December 31 under a plan agreed upon by the United Nations Security Council. That deadline was missed, however, when Syria failed to deliver the weapons to the port town of Latakia. According to the BBC, the missed deadline was blamed on poor weather conditions, road closures and moving battle lines.
The ships left their stations in Cyprus this morning but according to Danish Navy officials, the fleet will not enter Syrian waters until given approval by UN forces in Syria.
The removal of the chemical weapons is the first step in a deal brokered by the US and Russia that called on the Syrian regime to hand over all of its chemical weapons by mid-2014.
According to the BBC, among the most dangerous cargo for the Danish and Norwegian ships will be approximately 20 tonnes of sulphur mustard. The BBC also reports that US satellites and Chinese surveillance cameras will track Russian lorries transporting the weapons from a dozen different storage sites to Latakia, where they will be loaded onto the waiting ships.