Russian Trucks, Chinese Surveillance: World Readies to Rid Syria of Chemical Weapons

Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, outlines multi-nation plan. Syria will be responsible for transporting the weapons to Latakia.

The head of the organization overseeing the elimination of Syria's chemical arsenal on Wednesday released the plans for destroying the weapons outside the war-torn country.

Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said that Russia had agreed to provide armored trucks to assist in shipping the weapons to Syria's Mediterranean port of Latakia.

The United States would provide 3,000 container drums and other technical equipment, Uzumcu said in a statement to the international body's executive council, delivered on Tuesday.

Syria would be responsible for transporting the weapons to Lattakia.

China will provide surveillance cameras and ambulances on stand-by in case of any accidents.

Uzumcu confirmed that Denmark and Norway will provide a transport vessel and military escorts to take the chemicals to an Italian port, where the "priority chemicals" would be transferred to a US ship for destruction at sea.

The OPCW will start the tendering process for commercial destruction of the remaining chemicals Thursday, Uzumcu said.

The watchdog has already confirmed the destruction of all Syria's chemical weapons production and filling facilities.

The plan, which should see the priority chemicals destroyed by the end of March and the entire arsenal eliminated by the end of June, could suffer delays, Uzumcu warned.

Heavy fighting in the Qalamoun area, which straddles the main road north from Damascus towards Homs and Lattakia, "poses risks to the timely execution of the operation," he said.

Syria agreed to dispose of its weapons in line with a Russia-US deal, amid international outrage after hundreds died in an August chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held area outside Damascus.

Meanwhile, sources in the Syrian opposition National Coalition said that its president, Ahmed al-Jarba, would be meeting Russian and U.S. representatives in Geneva on Thursday.

Al-Jarba would join preparatory talks ahead of the Geneva II Syria peace conference, due to begin on January 22, the sources told DPA.

Both the Syrian government and the Western- and Gulf-backed coalition have agreed to attend the conference, which is intended to bring about agreement on a political transition, including the formation of an interim governing authority.

But the coalition insists that its presence is tied to President Bashar Assad having no role in the transitional period. Al-assad's government says that he will remain in place until his presidential term expires next year and that he may run for re-election.

Islamist groups, increasingly the dominant opposition force on the ground in Syria, have rejected the talks.