The United States will destroy some of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal at sea, after previously offering to do so. The hydrolysis operation targets the most lethal parts of the stockpile.
The announcement of the operation was made on Saturday by the world's chemical watchdog, the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The weapons will be destroyed at sea by hydrolysis, when chemical compounds decompose due to their reaction with water. OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü said the US government had offered "destruction technology, full operational support and financing to neutralize Syria's priority chemicals".
The chemicals are due to be removed from Syria by December 31.
The operation is part of a joint OPCW-UN plan to completely eradicate Syria's chemical weapons by the middle of next year. It said on Saturday it will evaluate 35 expressions of interest from commercial companies that have applied to destroy the inventory.
Üzümcü said the organization was "at the preliminary stage of ascertaining the availability of suitable candidate companies," adding those making bids would need to comply with international regulations on safety and the environment.
Üzümcü called on member states to contribute to a special trust fund to finance the destruction of the weapons, or to provide in-kind contributions, including contracting companies to "conduct destruction activities."
jr/tj (Reuters, AP, AFP)