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  • Foreign affairs    April 19 
Syria on track to ship out chemical weapons materials by deadline
AP Photo/Petros Karadjias
AP Photo/Petros Karadjias

Officials from the international mission tasked with monitoring Syria's chemical weapons disarmament say the operation is running on schedule.

"The renewed pace in movements is positive," Sigrid Kaag, special coordinator of the joint mission between the United Nations and the OPCW, told Reuters. "(It is) necessary to ensure progress towards a tight deadline."

That deadline — April 27 — is quickly approaching, but Kaag said Syria had shipped out or destroyed nearly 80 percent of its declared chemical weapons material. The international community pressured Syria to give up its chemical weapons cache after a sarin gas attack killed hundreds of people in the country last August.

The pace is all the more impressive as the United States and Russia are currently at odds over Moscow's involvement in Ukraine. The two countries had worked together last September to ensure cooperation from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on removing the country's chemical weapons materials, with Russian President Vladimir Putin ultimately securing the agreement.

Even as Syria moves more of its stockpiled chemical weapons out, though, reports continue to surface of new chemical weapons attacks in the country. The government and rebel forces are trading accusations over the most recent alleged incident; a chlorine gas attack which both sides agree took place in the central village of Kafr Zeita.

Should Syria succeed in moving out 100 percent of its declared chemical weapons material by the deadline, the international community will need to bear in mind that key word, anyway: Declared.

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