Syrian Chemical Weapons Destruction: Update 13

Within this past week, an additional two shipments of chemicals were sent out from the Syrian port of Latakia.  The OPCW announced that the 14th shipment left on 13 April and the Joint OPCW-UN Mission announced the 15th shipment left on 16 April.  According to the Joint Mission, a total of 72.3% of the chemicals have now been either destroyed in country or have been shipped out of Syria; the OPCW stated that with the 14th shipment, 57.4% of the Priority 1 chemicals are now out of the country.  While it is unclear what the exact make-up of the Priority 1 and Priority 2 chemicals are, it is assumed that Priority 1 chemicals include mustard agent and sarin precursor chemicals.  It is still unclear whether the Assad government will be able to meet the current 27 April deadline for all chemicals to be removed from Syria.

The Syrian Arab Republic submitted an updated and more detailed list of its chemical stockpile to the OPCW Executive Council on 17 April.  The original list submitted by Syria in December 2013 was made up of estimated ranges rather than exact amounts, according to officials, so this updated list is based on the quantities of chemicals inspectors found on site.   The original list estimated Syria had about 1,300 metric tons of chemicals; details from the new list have not yet been released to the public and so it is unclear whether or not this number has changed in light of these revelations.

In addition to these above reports, we have updated information on news from last week.  The OPCW has since updated its website to include a bit more information on the joint OPCW-U.S. Government briefing aboard the MV Cape Ray.  According to the press release which includes links to online media from news organizations, over 30 international media and NGOs heard the briefing by Rear Admiral Bob Burke on the maritime and hydrolysis operation.  These included leading TV, radio, and print journalists from Al-jazeera, BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CNN, Radio Television Espana, NHK-Japan, Tokyo Broadcasting Co, ANSA, AP, and Reuters.  There is no detailed information on which NGOs attended.

Additionally, more detail has come to light on the alleged attacks outside the Syrian capital of Damascus.  According to numerous sources, including the well-regarded Brown Moses blog, the Syrian regime utilized DIY barrel bombs with chlorine gas canisters inside to attack the town of Kafr Zita outside Damascus.  The OPCW will still not be investigating these allegations.