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Schoolkids form human chain against chemical arms in port

Syrian weapons disposal process to start next week

24 January, 15:31
Schoolkids form human chain against chemical arms in port (ANSA) - San Ferdinando, January 24 - Schoolchildren and parents formed a human chain around a town hall in the southern Calabria region Friday in protest against the arrival of chemical arms from Syria in a nearby port.

The chain included students, parents and teachers from two schools in the town of San Ferdinando, roughly 300 meters from the port of Gioia Tauro, where next week a United Nations-organized ship-to-ship transfer of chemical weapons is slated to take place from a Danish and a Norwegian cargo ship to the MV Cape Ray, a US Navy ship.

The MV Cape Ray set sail from the US on Wednesday and is expected in the Mediterranean in seven days. It will be fitted with the US Army's Field Deployable Hydrolysis System (FDHS), a ship-borne facility that can break chemical arms down into materials that cannot be re-used as weapons.

The transfer will take place off land, and destroying the weapons will take place in international waters. Italian Premier Enrico Letta met with local and regional officials in Calabria on Tuesday to allay fears. Calabria Governor Giuseppe Scopelliti said afterward they received "ample reassurances from Premier Letta".