Latest News (Syria, Ukraine) – April 27, 2014

Middle East Online

Clock ticks on Syria handover of entire chemical stockpile

April 27, 2014

DAMASCUS – Syria still holds around eight percent of its chemical weapons material, missing a deadline to remove or destroy it all, the mission overseeing the destruction of its arsenal said Sunday. Despite the slip, the head of the mission, Sigrid Kaag, said she was still hopeful a June 30 deadline for the complete destruction of Syria’s chemical arms would be met. Syria’s parliament meanwhile announced four new candidates have submitted applications to run in presidential elections scheduled for June 3. And Iraq’s interior ministry said Iraqi army helicopters attacked a jihadist convoy in eastern Syria as it tried to approach the border, killing at least eight people.

Speaking in Damascus, Kaag said 7.5-8.0 percent of Syria’s declared chemical weapons material remained in-country, at “one particular site.” “However, 92.5 percent of chemical weapons material removed or destroyed is signficant progress,” she said. “We also however need to… ensure the remaining 7.5-8.0 percent of the chemical weapons material is also removed and destroyed.” Of that amount, 6.5 percent would be removed from Syria, she said. “A small percentage is to be destroyed, regardless, in-country. That can be done. It’s a matter of accessing the site,” she added.

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bbc

Ukraine crisis: Military observer freed in Sloviansk

April 27, 2014

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have released one of a team of eight European monitors seized in the flashpoint city of Sloviansk. The officer, a Swede, was freed on medical grounds, it has been confirmed. The monitors were shown to the media on Sunday – a move described as “revolting” by Germany, the native country of four of the team. The remaining seven are still being held and diplomacy continues to try to secure their freedom. There is no word about a number of Ukrainian military officers who were seized along with the group. In eastern Ukraine, gunmen continue to occupy official buildings in a dozen cities, defying the government in Kiev.

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