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Transfer of Syrian chemical weapons begins in Italy

Published on Jul 2, 2014 4:27 PM
Danish ship Ark Futura arrives in the port of Gioia Tauro, southern Italy, on July 2, 2014 for the transfer of chemical weapons from Syria to be destroyed. -- PHOTO: AFP

GIOIA TAURO, Italy (AFP) - The operation to transfer Syrian chemical weapons from a Danish freighter to a US military ship ahead of their destruction at sea kicked off on Wednesday, expected to last up to 20 hours.

With the vessels moored stern-to-stern within a wide safety zone set up around the port of Gioia Tauro in Italy, the first of 78 containers was taken off the Ark Futura by crane and manoeuvred onto the MV Cape Ray by a vast climbing platform.

The first three containers to be transferred hold a total of 20 tonnes of mustard gas, while the remaining 75 contain among other things the raw materials for Sarin nerve gas, according to Italian media reports.

Once the chemical agents have been safely transferred, they will be destroyed in international waters in the final phase of a programme to rid Syria of its chemical arms stockpile.

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