Syria's Chemical Weapons Remain In Country Despite Deadline

As of Sunday, around eight percent of Syria’s chemical weapons remained in the country. That’s bad news for the international operation to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal entirely, as Sunday was supposed to be the day by which all of those weapons were removed from the country’s borders. It’s also bad news for the people of Syria, as President Bashar al-Assad has shown no reluctance to keep using chemical weapons in the country even as international authorities work to destroy them.

This is at least the third blown deadline for the team tasked with destroying Syria’s chemical weapons. That team had pinned June 30th as the deadline to finish the job, and in order to meet that deadline, the materials used to make those weapons were supposed to have been out of the country’s borders by Sunday, April 27th. But on Sunday, Kaag said that between 7.5 and 8 percent of the the materials used to make chemical weapons are still in the country, “at one particular site.”

“92.5 percent of chemical weapons material removed or destroyed is significant progress," Kaag said. “We also however need to... ensure the remaining 7.5-8.0 percent of the chemical weapons material is also removed and destroyed."

Earlier in April, there were reports that the Assad regime had launched a chlorine gas attack against opposition forces, although the regime, not surprisingly, blamed the attack on rebels. But chlorine isn’t one of the priority chemicals being destroyed by the mission, and that attack still hasn’t been confirmed.