China to send military ship to guard Syria chemical weapons destruction
Unprecedented two-week operation will see 500 tons of cargo travel by road and cargo ship to Italian port by end of the year. [scmp]
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The Foreign Ministry reported on Thursday that China is to send a military ship to help protect the U.S. vessel that will destroy Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.
Under an international agreement after attacks near Damascus that killed hundreds in the summer of 2013, Syria is expected to hand over the deadly toxins which can be used to make sarin and other lethal agents.
Since the chemicals are too dangerous to be shipped to any other country, they will be destroyed on board the specially adapted U.S. ship. There is no agreement yet on where the ship will anchor while the work is being finalized.
"China has decided to send a military ship to participate in the protection mission for the shipping of Syrian chemical weapons," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reported at a daily news briefing.
She also added that it was an "important move" to show China's support of the process for peace.
"China hopes that the relevant work on removing Syria's chemical weapons can be completed safely and smoothly. This will assist in pushing for a political resolution to the Syrian issue, will assist in increasing regional peace and stability and accords with the interest of all sides," Hua said.
China has been consistent in calling for a political resolution. It has also called for investigations by U.N. chemical weapons inspectors and warned against pre-judging the results. China has reported to say that anyone who uses chemical weapons should be held accountable.
In what has become a two-and-a-half year civil war in Syria that has killed over 100,000 people, the U.N. has found that chemical weapons were likely used for five out of the seven attacks they have investigated.
The most serious use was on August 21, when hundreds of people were killed in by sarin gas in near the capital, Damascus. This was the worst gas attack in twenty-five years and caused the threat of missile strikes by the United States against the regime of Assad.
Starting today, the tender for the commercial destruction of hundreds of tons of industrial chemicals and toxic waste from Syria's chemical weapons will be open with contracts likely to go to a several firms.