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epa04006306 Work continues on the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System built on the trailer deck of the M/V Cape Ray docked in Portsmouth, Virginia,USA, 02 January 2014. The M/V Cape Ray is being equipped with the newly developed Field Deployable Hydrolysis System, which was designed by the Defense Department to neutralize components used in Syrian chemical weapons. EPA/SHAWN THEW +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Syria's C-weapons destroyed

August 19, 2014

US President Barack Obama has hailed the destruction of the last of Syria's declared chemical weapons stockpile by a US Navy ship. But he said Syria's government must still fulfill pledges to destroy weapons factories.


US President Barack Obama on Monday welcomed reports that the US Navy ship Cape Ray has completely eliminated chemical weapons declared by Syria's government under an international plan.

"Today we mark an important achievement in our ongoing effort to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction by eliminating Syria's declared chemical weapons stockpile," Obama said in a statement.

The destruction sent "a clear message that the use of these abhorrent weapons has consequences and will not be tolerated by the international community," he said.

"Going forward, we will watch closely to see that Syria fulfills its commitment to destroy its remaining declared chemical weapons production facilities," he added.

Secretary of State John Kerry described the destruction of the weapons as a "milestone," but said "much more work must be done" to ensure that Syria's deadly chemical arsenal is completely eliminated.

Deadly Damascus attack

Syria agreed to surrender its chemical weapons stockpile for destruction last fall after Obama threatened to carry out missile strikes in response to a chemical attack on a rebel-held district in the Syrian capital, Damascus, during the country's civil war. More than 1,000 people are believed to have died in the attack.

The Pentagon said the Cape Ray had neutralized 581.5 metric tons of DF - a precursor chemical for the highly lethal compound sarin, which was used in the Damascus attack - and 19.8 metric tons of HD, an ingredient of sulfur mustard, commonly known as mustard gas.

The destruction took place in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea, but officials have said none of the chemicals or waste will be dumped at sea.

Instead, the vessel will travel to Germany and Finland in the next two weeks to unload the effluent resulting from the hydrolosis process, a Pentagon spokeswoman said. There, it is to undergo treatment to render it safer.

Civil war ongoing

Syria remains embroiled in a civil conflict as anti-government rebels try to oust the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The United Nations says at least 170,000 have died as a result of more than three years of fighting, and more than four million displaced.

The situation has recently been complicated further by the involvement of the jihadist group "Islamic State," which in pursuit of its own aims has attacked both anti-government rebels and government troops.

The US aviation regulator on Monday ordered airlines based in the United States to stop flying over Syria, citing a "serious potential threat" to civil planes.

tj/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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