A Danish-led task force was being readied in Cyprus on Saturday to remove the first part of Syrian chemical stockpile, due before the end of this year.
Denmark and Norway plan to use two cargo vessels to transport the cargo out of the Syrian port city of Latakia, escorted by two frigates of their respective navies, and deliver it to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for destruction.
The deadliest chemicals in Syria's stockpile are due to be shipped out of the country by the end of the year under an agreement between Damascus and the OPCW, but the ongoing conflict is complicating efforts to meet that deadline.
Commander of the combined task force "Torben Mikkelsen" told journalists in the Cypriot port of Limassol that "the timing is another matter and it is related to a lot of other uncertainties right now but we are preparing to be ready as fast as possible", adding "my job right now is to prepare this task group, capable of transporting chemical agents out of the port of Latakia in Syria, to a so-far not identified destination for ongoing further destruction of these chemical agents".
Bjorn Schmidt, a chemist of the Danish Emergency Management Agency who is a member of the mission , said "I think the plan is we will be heading for a harbor where we will meet an American ship and they have a field deployable hydrolysis system on board and they will destroy them at sea".