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Published: Friday December 6, 2013 MYT 9:55:01 PM
Updated: Friday December 6, 2013 MYT 9:56:04 PM

Denmark, Norway offer to transport chemical weapons out of Syria

Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad carry weapons while walking in the town of Safira November 2, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/George Ourfalian

Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad carry weapons while walking in the town of Safira November 2, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/George Ourfalian

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark and Norway have offered naval frigates and specialised cargo vessels to transport chemical weapons out of Syria, as part of an international deal that averted U.S. missile strikes on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Denmark would lead the operation, while Norway would act as deputy commander, the two countries said in a joint statement.

Italy, Norway and Denmark have all offered to transport Syria's chemicals from the port of Latakia with military escorts.

The chemicals would then be transferred to a U.S. ship, where the stockpile would be destroyed.

According to a plan endorsed by the international community, the most dangerous chemical warfare agents should be out of Syria by end of December.

Under a deal worked out between the United States and Russia, Syria will relinquish control of its chemical weapons and destroy its entire stockpile of 1,300 tonnes of sarin, mustard gas and other lethal agents.

The size of the stockpile, including 800 tons of industrial chemicals destined for incineration at commercial toxic waste plants, means it can only be transported by land and sea.

Both Denmark and Norway will have to complete the relevant national procedures before the operation can begin, they said.

(Reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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