What Challenges Remain in Removing Chemical Weapons from Syria?


It's a really intense time at the moment. Every convoy thus far has been attacked and there were five rockets fired at Latakia during loading, so there's been pretty intense fighting in and around the convoys.

SD: With its resources stretched, might the government be dragging its feet on removing the rest?

De Bretton Gordon: They can't fight the opposition when they have these chemicals to support. Latakia has been attacked by rockets a number of times, and five landed close to where they were loading [the chemicals onto a ship] last week. The opposition in various guises has been attacking the convoy, and it's taken a massive effort by the Syrian army to get everything through from Damascus to the coast by using overwhelming force. Without the Russians leaning on them, which could continue to be the case going forward as Crimea [unfolds], the government will become more reluctant.

SD: What are the issues facing the team going forward?

De Bretton Gordon: There are two issues at stake: there is a view that the government has not declared its stockpile in its entirety. Another is proliferation, which is that stockpile falling into the hands of al-Qaida and ISIS, and there's also the threat that small amounts of Syria's stockpiles have moved into neighboring countries like Iraq.

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