NICOSIA, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Two warships, which will provide security for cargo vessels that will carry Syria's chemical arsenal out of the port of Latakia, sailed out of the Cypriot port of Limassol on Friday heading towards the Syrian coast, according to reliable port sources.
The sources told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that Danish frigate Esbern Snare and Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad will accompany two cargo vessels, one from each Nordic country, which will take delivery of 500 tons of dangerous chemicals in Latakia.
The chemicals will be transferred at sea to an American ship specially equipped to destroy by hydrolysis the chemicals used to make the deadly sarin and VX substances used in Syria's chemical weapons.
The operation on behalf of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will be under a joint Danish-Norwegian command.
A Chinese frigate, the Yan Cheng, which is scheduled to sail into Limassol port on Saturday, and Russia's missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great) will also provide escort to the Danish and Norwegian ships which will take the chemicals out of Syria, but will not be under the Danish-Norwegian command.
A spokesman for the joint operation said earlier Friday in Copenhagen that the four warships will initially converge toward a holding area in international waters off Syria's coast in readiness for the removal operation.
The chemicals had to be removed from Syria by the end of 2013 but an initial effort to approach Syria was reported abandoned on Dec. 31 because of security concerns.
Frank Kendall, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, said on Thursday that the USA cargo ship Cape Ray will destroy the chemicals in international waters within about 45 days. The vessel is reported to be presently stationed in Italy.