August 30, 2016 - 15:19 AMT
Libya ships last chemical weapons stocks out of country

Libya has shipped the last of its chemical weapons stocks out of the country on a Danish vessel, under a UN-backed plan to eliminate the arsenal, officials said Tuesday, August 30, according to AFP.

A senior security official told AFP the stocks were shipped to Germany on Saturday from the port of Misrata under the supervision of the United Nations.

The deputy prime minister of Libya's Government of National Accord, Mussa el-Koni, confirmed the operation, saying: "All of Libya's chemical arsenal has been shipped out of the country."

The Danish government had earlier this month offered to send a container vessel, support ship and 200 staff to handle the operation, coordinated by the UN-backed Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The UN Security Council on July 22 endorsed plans to remove Libya's chemical weapons from the country and prevent them from falling into the hands of extremists like the Islamic State group.

The security official said 23 tanks of chemicals were shipped out under the operation.

The weapons had been stored in the central Jafa area, about 200 kilometres south of Sirte, where pro-GNA forces are battling IS jihadists, he said.

"We as Libyans did not want these weapons, especially during the current security situation and with the presence of IS in the region," the security official said.

Libya joined the UN convention on eliminating chemical weapons in 2004.

At the time it declared 24.7 tonnes of mustard gas, 1,390 tonnes of precursor chemicals and more than 3,500 aerial bombs containing chemical weapons.

It had eliminated all the aerial bombs, 51 percent of the mustard gas and 40 percent of the precursor chemicals by 2011, when operations to destroy the arsenal were interrupted by the uprising against Moamer Kadhafi, according to the OPCW.