WASHINGTON, June 23 (Xinhua) -- The United States on Monday hailed the removal of the last toxic chemicals from Syria, saying it will start to make them harmless within weeks.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest described as "unprecedented" the work in removing more than 1,000 tons of declared chemical weapons material from Syria.
The final 8 percent of chemical arsenal were loaded aboard the Danish ship Ark Futura on Monday afternoon, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said.
Earnest told reporters that the organization had also verified the destruction of declared production, mixing and filling equipment as well as all delivery vehicles in Syria, "including missile warheads and aerial bombs."
"In the coming weeks, the United States will begin destruction of a large amount of Syria's chemical weapons precursors aboard the Cape Ray," he said at a daily news briefing. "This will be done in the safest, most environmentally sound manner."
The destruction will be done in international waters aboard a U. S. ship equipped with facilities to render the chemicals inert.
The Obama administration threatened to launch airstrikes on Syrian government targets last summer after accusing Damascus of using chemical weapons in its clashes with the opposition forces on Aug. 21, in which Earnest said more than 1,400 innocent Syrians were killed.
In September, Syria renounced its chemical arsenal and joined the 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons under an agreement brokered by Russia and the U.S.
The United Nations and the OPCW set up a joint mission in October to oversee the elimination under a UN Security Council resolution. The removal of the most critical material for destruction began in January, and the deadline for a complete elimination is June 30.
In a statement released on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry voiced "deep concern" about reports of "systematic use of chlorine gas" in areas held by the Syrian opposition.