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Reuters: “No Progress” in Efforts to Secure Remaining Chemical Weapons in Syria

Reuters on Thursday flatly assessed that “Syria has made no progress in relinquishing a last batch of chemical weapons [CWs],” noting that the Bashar al-Assad regime is using claims of nearby fighting to excuse the “increasingly likely” scenario under which it would fail to meet a final deadline set for it to dismantle its CWs:

The British deputy representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) told delegates in The Hague that packaging material had arrived for the 100 metric tons of toxic chemicals.

“But there is still no sign of any movement of chemicals, nor any indications of a time scale for a move,” said the statement, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

Recent months have seen consistent statementsand analysis suggesting that Damascus would fall short of meeting the terms of a September 2013 agreement – under which Syria ascended to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and committed to handing over parts of its nonconventional arsenal in exchange for the West standing down from impending military strikes – even before Damascus began publicly declaring that the failure was linked to the proximity of rebel forces.

The news comes amid reports that Syria is also violating the terms of the agreement by ignoring CWC prohibitions against the battlefield deployment of chlorine-based CWs. Reuters reported on Tuesday that a rebel-held village had been bombed by Assad-loyal forces, and that part of the bombardment had included chlorine bombs that killed at least one teenager.

The wire noted that the attack was “the sixth alleged poison gas attack [in Kfar Zeita] in two months.” 

The Guardian noted Thursday that efforts to hold the regime accountable via multilateral institutions were showing little progress:

Russia and China have vetoed a draft UN resolution calling for the crisis in Syria to be referred to the international criminal court – ignoring support for the measure by 65 other countries and all other members of the security council.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s UN ambassador, had earlier dismissed the vote as a “publicity stunt” and warned that if the resolution had passed it would hinder efforts to end the country’s three-year war. However, no peace negotiations are currently taking place.

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