US ship ready to destroy Syria’s weapons

The U.S. vessel tasked with destroying Syria's most toxic chemical weapons will depart later this week or early next week, defense officials announced Monday.

The MV Cape Ray, outfitted with two hydrolysis systems that will destroy the chemicals at sea, is conducting its final sea trial this week.

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About 60 Pentagon contractors and specialists from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will be onboard to complete the task, which is expected to take 45 to 90 days.

The Cape Ray will head toward Italy, where Danish and Norwegian ships carrying the weapons are expected to transfer them onto the U.S. ship before it heads out to sea to destroy them.

"We know that the transfer site will be in Italy, we just don't know the port yet," said Army Col. Steve Warren, Pentagon chief of press operations.

It will take about two weeks for the Cape Ray to arrive in Italy, Warren said.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that ceasefires in Syria's nearly-three year civil war could be possible, after meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who backs the Assad regime, and United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in Paris.

"We talked today about the possibility of trying to encourage a ceasefire. Maybe a localized ceasefire in Aleppo,” Kerry said at a news conference in Paris, according to Reuters.

The meeting comes ahead of a Jan. 22 peace conference in Geneva, Switzerland, where U.S. officials hope Syrian rebels and regime officials can negotiate an end to Syria's three-year civil war.