Syria: al-Qaeda insurgents seize Atma village on Turkish border

OPCW seeks private-sector to destroy Syria chemical arsenal

22 November, 11:41

    Kurdish-Syrian fighters at the frontline against islamist group Jahbat al-Nusra (archive) Kurdish-Syrian fighters at the frontline against islamist group Jahbat al-Nusra (archive)

    (ANSAmed) - BEIRUT - Insurgents from the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have seized the village of Atma in north-eastern Idlib province, where one of the largest informal refugee camps has risen at the Turkish border, local activists reported Friday.

    The fundamentalist militia chopped down a centuries-old tree because it was symbolic to the local inhabitants, the activists charged. ''The ISIS militias cut down the tree, saying it was an idol'', said the activists, who also published photos documenting the jihadist presence in Atma.

    Also on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in St. Petersburg to discuss bilateral cooperation, Syria, Iran, and the Middle East peace process.

    The issue of how to dispose of Syria's chemical weapons is still on the table after the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) approved a plan for most of the arsenal to be destroyed outside the country.

    The Nobel Peace Prize-winning watchdog agency issued a call on Wednesday for private-sector companies to help destroy two-thirds of that arsenal. ''The (OPCW) seeks to identify commercial companies interested in participating in a tendering process for the treatment and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous organic and inorganic chemicals, and related packaging materials and containers/drums associated with the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons'', the agency website said. The New York Times reported that destruction at sea or aboard a special barge in the Mediterranean are among the options being considered after Albania and Norway last week turned down requests to help destroy Syria's chemical weapons on their soil. (ANSAmed).

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