A group of 40 Greek and Italian activists set off in a flotilla from the port of Chania on the island of Crete, Greece, on Friday to protest for the destruction of Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons in the sea, southwest of the island.
Organizers said their aim is to approach the US Navy ship USS Cape Ray, which is anchored in international waters some 200 nautical miles southwest of Crete, near the Italian island of Sicily.
The activists set sail on three boats at noon and are expected to reach the USS Cape Ray in about 28 hours.
During a press conference, the said that they wanted to “shout out their opposition to the dangerous experiment taking place at the expense of the Mediterranean Sea and the lives of the people.”
The USS Cape Ray has been commissioned to neutralize Syria’s stockpile of mustard gas, raw materials for sarin nerve gas and tons of other highly toxic chemicals.
On Thursday, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said all 1,300 metric tonnes of toxic chemicals removed from Syria have been delivered to destruction sites outside the country.
On July 2, 600 metric tonnes of chemicals were loaded onto the US Navy vessel in the Italian port of Gioia Tauro, in what was the last such material to be removed from the country.
The USS Cape Ray has two field-deployable hydrolysis systems, which will mix the chemicals in a titanium reactor to render them inert.
When the neutralization process is completed, the by-products will be sent to Finland and Germany for destruction ashore.
The chemical weapons disarmament plan for Syria was brokered in September by the United States and Russia. It was a rare diplomatic success, as other international efforts to end the bloody civil war have failed.