TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian army secured a strategic highway linking capital Damascus to Northern Syria paving the way for shipment of chemical weapons for destruction abroad.
Army troops launched an operation last month in the rugged Qalamoun region North of Damascus in an attempt to secure the main North-South highway that runs through the area and to cut militants’ supply lines that crisscross the mountainous terrain, Al-Alam reported.
Two Lebanon-based, TV stations, Al-Mayadeen and Al-Manar, reported that the Damascus-Homs highway had been secured by the army. Both stations have several reporters in Syria.
Fighting between Syrian army and foreign-backed militants in the area had left the road cut for nearly three weeks, but army soldiers reopened the road Sunday after getting control of most of the contested town of Nabk that is located along the highway.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is leading the UN-backed mission to rid Syria of chemical weapons, said last week it would consider using the highway to transport packs of arsenal to the port of Latakia before taking the weapons out of the country for destruction.
Dutch diplomat Sigrid Kaag, who leads the joint United Nations-OPCW mission in Syria, said the highway was closed recently as she visited the port of Latakia in a helicopter.
“To get the material to port, it is necessary that roads are open and are safe and secure to use,” Kaag said last week.
The UN-OPCW team in Syria aims to remove the most toxic chemicals from Syria by the end of the year for destruction at sea and destroy the entire stockpile by mid-2014.
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