In brief: Syria told to destroy toxic chemicals
DAMASCUS, Syria – The head of an international mission to Syria charged with destroying the country’s chemical weapons called on President Bashar Assad’s government Sunday to ensure it meets a deadline to destroy all its toxic chemicals amid a raging civil war.
Meanwhile, clashes raging through the northern city of Aleppo killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 50, activists reported.
Sigrid Kaag of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons told reporters in Damascus that 92.5 percent of Syria’s chemical materials had been removed from the country and destroyed. She called it “significant progress,” although she called on Syria’s government to ensure remaining materials would be eradicated by the end of April.
“I strongly encourage (the Syrian government) to go for that last push that we can really talk of hundred percent removal and destruction,” Kaag said.
Syria missed an April 13 deadline to destroy all its chemical weapons in accessible locations. International experts say that could impact on reaching a June 30 deadline to remove all Syria’s chemical weapons.
“An important (achievement) has been made in permanently closing down production facilities,” Kaag said, adding it came in “a very short period of time and under difficult and challenging security conditions.”
Doctors Without Borders workers killed
BANGUI, Central African Republic – A spokesman for the global aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said three of its workers have been killed in Central African Republic.
Press officer Tim Shenk said Sunday that the colleagues had been killed Saturday in Nanga Boguila. The town is in the northwestern part of the country, near the border with Chad.
Shenk says the aid group, also known as Doctors Without Borders, will release more details today.
Central African Republic has been ripped apart by months of unprecedented violence between Christians and Muslims. The United Nations has described the forced displacement of tens of thousands of Muslims as “ethnic cleansing.”
Afghanistan flooding kills more than 100
KABUL, Afghanistan – An official says flooding in northern Afghanistan has killed more than 100 people and driven hundreds more from their homes.
The Afghan National Army was using helicopters to rescue people trapped by the waters and ferry food and water to remote areas.
The Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority official said Sunday that 111 dead bodies have been found so far from Sari Pul, Zawzjan, Faryab and Badghis provinces. Around 20 other people are still missing. The official spoke by telephone on condition of anonymity because he is not an authorized spokesman.
The floods were fed by heavy rains late in the week. The official said about 1,000 people have fled their villages, after losing their houses, crops and livestock.