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Sardinia does not want to host Syrian chemical weapons transfer-governor

Source: Reuters - Fri, 10 Jan 2014 18:02 GMT
Author: Reuters
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ROME, Jan 10 (Reuters) - The governor of the Italian region of Sardinia warned Prime Minister Enrico Letta on Friday that he would fight against allowing the transfer of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal on the island, a statement said.

Italy agreed last month to allow the use of a port on its territory for the handover of the deadly toxins that can be used to make sarin, VX gas and other lethal agents. The government has not yet said which port will be used.

Italian media reports had suggested the Sardinian ports of Arbatax or Oristano as possible destinations. Other mooted possibilities include the Sicilian port of Augusta or Brindisi in the southern region of Puglia.

The transfer of chemicals aboard a Danish vessel to a specially adapted U.S. ship, where they will be destroyed at sea, is part of an international agreement spearheaded by Russia in the wake of a chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus that killed hundreds, including children, in late August.

"The regional government is warning the prime minister not to allow the transit of Syrian chemical weapons in our ports or on the island's territory," regional governor Ugo Cappellacci told Letta, according to a statement.

If the government chooses the island for the chemical transfer, Cappellacci said he would take "political and judicial" action to fight it, the statement said.

Syria's 2-1/2-year civil war has killed at least 125,835 people, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and over 2 million refugees have fled, often overwhelming neighbouring countries.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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