Saturday, January 25, 2014

Massive protests in Italy due to arrival of toxic cargo from Syria

MV Cape Ray
Widespread protests have started in the south of Italy due to the upcoming shipment of a toxic cargo expected to arrive by sea from Syria in 10 days.

Local residents got angry with the situation as, according to them, secrecy surrounds the whole operation and no guarantees were given by the government.

"They are telling us that the material carried is not dangerous, but in fact nobody knows what is inside those containers," said one of the protesters.

The Mayor of Gioia Tauro, Renato Bellofiore, has threatened to close the port and called for another massive protest on February 1.

An estimated 60 containers with Syria's deadliest chemicals, including mustard gas and the ingredients for the nerve agents sarin, are due to be moved from a Danish ship to a US vessel using rolling cranes without "stocking on land", according to Italian transport Minister Mario Lupi's assurances.

However, when the port was chosen as a site of a transfer of Syrian chemical weapons, Mayor Renato Belfiore announced that he and the locals would "oppose this move by all legal means".

"They are putting my life at risk. If anything happens, people will come and get me with pitchforks," he said back then.

Earlier this month, a Danish cargo ship, the Ark Futura, took a first cargo of materials from Latakia and is now back in international waters, awaiting a return to pick up the remainder.

In Italy, the chemicals will be transferred onto the US ship MV Cape Ray, which will dispose of them at sea over a period of up to three months.

The entire Syrian chemical arsenal is expected to be decommissioned by June 30 in line with the UN plan.

UN Security Council resolution 2118 was approved after a massive chemical weapon attack that killed hundreds of people near Damascus in last August.

Voice of Russia, AFP, Euronews


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