World's chemical watchdog said Russian armored trucks will help take Syria's chemical weapons out of the country, tracked by U.S satellite equipment and Chinese surveillance cameras, in an unprecedented international operation.
The details are part of an ambitious plan unveiled by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at a meeting of its Executive Council published Wednesday despite delays to the overall operation which aims to be completed by mid-2014.
Several nations have already announced their offers of help, including the US, which is to destroy "hundreds of tonnes" of Category One chemicals - including mustard gas, sarin and VX nerve gas - aboard a specially-equipped ship in international waters.
A Danish and a Norwegian frigate are waiting in Cyprus to escort Nordic cargo ships to collect the chemicals from Syria's main port Latakia, but the hazardous materials are still at 12 sites around Syria. The Nordic vessels will take the chemicals to an Italian port, where they will be loaded onto the US ship for destruction, before returning to Latakia to pick up the remaining chemicals to be destroyed at commercial facilities outside of Syria.
The OPCW had set itself a December 31 deadline for the most dangerous chemicals to be taken out of Syria, via Latakia, but that date is likely to be pushed back. Syria's most dangerous chemicals must be destroyed by March 31. It also announced that a trust fund set up for Syria's ambitious disarmament programme currently has 9.8 million euros ($13.5 million), while Japan has pledged a further $15 million.
Russia will also provide sailors and naval vessels to secure cargo operations at Latakia and within Syrian territorial waters. The U.S is also supplying 3,000 containers for transporting the over 1,000 tonnes of lethal chemicals and precursors, as well as loading, transportation and decontamination equipment.
The OPCW has received expressions of interest from 42 companies around the world for destroying some of Syria's less-toxic chemicals, but also the effluent left over from destruction aboard the U.S ship.
OPCW said that the tendering process for their destruction will begin on Thursday.