Syria has handed over the remaining 100 tonnes of toxic material it declared to the global chemical weapons watchdog, clearing the way for destruction of the stockpile at sea, sources told Reuters on Monday.
The chemicals, roughly 8 per cent of a total 1,300 tonnes reported to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, had been held at a storage site which the government of President Bashar al-Assad previously said was inaccessible due to fighting with rebels.
An investigation into alleged use of chlorine in Syria’s civil war will continue, the OPCW’s chief said on Monday. Ahmet Uzumcu also told reporters in The Hague that destroying the chemicals will take about four months. An investigation by the OPCW into alleged chlorine use, which is being jointly carried out with the United Nations, “may take a little more time. Clearly we want to conclude it as soon as possible,” Uzumcu said.
Syria agreed last September to destroy its entire chemical weapons program under a deal negotiated with the United States and Russia after hundreds of people were killed in a sarin gas attack in the outskirts of the capital, Damascus. The agreement averted U.S. military strikes in response to the worst chemical weapons attack in decades, which Washington and its European allies blamed on Assad’s regime. Assad blames rebels battling to oust him for the chemical attack.
The civil war in Syria, now in its fourth year, has killed 150,000 people, displaced half the country’s 22 million population and forced 2.8 million to flee.
ISRAEL: AIR STRIKES KILL 10 SYRIAN TROOPS
Israeli air strikes on Syrian military positions killed at least 10 members of Syria’s army, a monitoring group said on Monday, a day after Israel said an attack from inside Syria killed an Israeli boy in the Golan Heights.
Israeli tanks and warplanes fired at Syrian army positions overnight on Sunday in response to what an Israeli military spokesman described as an intentional attack from inside Syria.
A statement issued by Syria's Foreign Ministry says Israeli forces carried out “a new aggression” on Sunday and Monday on positions inside Syria. It says the air raids were a sign of the “direct and continuous support” that Israel is giving to rebels fighting to topple al-Assad.
“At least 10 members of the Syrian army were killed,” said Rami Abdurrahman from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group that collects information from activists in Syria. The strikes also destroyed two army tanks and targeted an army headquarters, he said, confirming that the Israeli strikes had aimed at nine positions.
The strikes were in response to an anti-tank missile which was fired from Syria across the frontier fence on the Golan, Israel said on Sunday. The missile had struck a water tanker in which Mohammed Qaraqara, 13, had been travelling, the military said, describing the attack as the most serious on the border with Syria since the start of the conflict.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: REBELS RECRUITING TEENS, REPORT WARNS
Syrian rebel factions have recruited teenagers as young as 15 to fight in the country’s civil war, using them in roles ranging from soldiers and snipers to stretcher bearers and suicide bombers, a rights group said Monday.
Human Rights Watch said rebel groups across the ideological spectrum have employed children in the conflict, including the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front as well as the al-Qaeda breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Military and police forces in Kurdish-controlled areas have also used teenagers, it said.
“Syrian armed groups shouldn’t prey on vulnerable children – who have seen their relatives killed, schools shelled, and communities destroyed – by enlisting them in their forces,” said Priyanka Motaparthy, the author of the 31-page report. “The horrors of Syria’s armed conflict are only made worse by throwing children into the front lines.”
Human Rights Watch, which said the number of children fighting in the conflict is unknown, based its report on interviews with 25 children and former child soldiers in Syria. It said the report does not cover pro-government militias, which are also alleged to have used child fighters.
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