Russia could transport Syria chemical arms

After Syrian troops reportedly claim control over key highway to transport the chemical weapons to Latakiya port

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Russia could help provide transport to take Syrian chemical weapons to the Mediterranean port of Latakia for removal and destruction at sea, Reuters reported Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying on Monday.

“Transport, yes ... the issue is being discussed,” Reuters quoted Bogdanov as telling reporters when asked whether Moscow could provide security or transport to help get the weapons to Latakia, from where Syria is due to send them to a floating destruction facility.

“My understanding is that the Syrian authorities should protect (the shipments),” he added:

Bogdanov’s statement comes after the Syrian troops captured a western town near the country’s main north-south highway on Monday, the Associated Press reported the state media as saying.

The Associated Press citing state media reports said the Syrian troops took full control of Nabek a day after taking the nearby highway that links the capital, Damascus, with the central city of Homs.

The highway is critical for the overland transport of Syria’s chemical weapons to Latakiya port.

However, Syrian activists denied the state media reports, and insisted that the rebels still hold part of Nabek.

The area has strategic value for both sides in Syria’s conflict, now in its third year. The highway serves as a crucial link between Damascus and the country’s north, as well as government strongholds along the Mediterranean coast.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said last week it would consider using the road to transport the chemical weapons to the port of Latakia.

Meanwhile, Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the government controls most of Nabek but that fighting was still going on around the town.

(With Reuters and AP)

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