UNITED NATIONS, June 23 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations - Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Joint Mission announced Monday that Syria has removed all of its declared chemical arsenal from its territory.
"The Joint Mission welcomes the removal of the remaining 7.2 percent of chemical weapons material from the Syrian Arab Republic, " the international team of experts overseeing the elimination of chemical weapons program in Syria said in a press release.
"With this last movement, the total of declared chemical weapons materials destroyed or removed from Syria has reached 100 percent," said the Joint Mission. "The most operationally challenging task within the effort to eliminate the Syrian chemical weapons program has come to an end."
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution in September last year to rid the war-torn Middle East country of its chemical weapons. Under the resolution, the OPCW was mandated to oversee the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons materials.
The removal of the most critical material for destruction began in early January. As per the decisions taken by the Security Council and the OPCW Executive Council, the full arsenal of Syria' s chemical weapons should be destroyed by June 30, 2014.
The focus in recent weeks had been on the removal of the remaining 7.2 percent of the declared chemical weapons material which had been difficult owing to volatile security conditions.
On Monday, the Joint Mission also stated that, in addition to the completion of the removal operation, Syria has destroyed all declared production, mixing and filling equipment and munitions, as well as many buildings associated with its declared chemical weapons program.
"With the exception of twelve production facilities that are awaiting a decision by the Executive Council of OPCW, all of the declared Syrian chemical weapons program has been eliminated in an unprecedented timeframe and under uniquely challenging conditions, " it said.
The removal of the chemical agents out of Syria involved shipping them on commercial vessels provided by some UN member states, and then loading them onto a United States ship and destroying them at sea.
Recognizing the "constructive cooperation and commitment demonstrated by the Syrian government throughout this complex operation," the Joint Mission said it is also grateful for "the significant support and professionalism demonstrated by the maritime partners -- People's Republic of China, Denmark, Norway, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States -- who have provided critical resources and support to the operations."
Moreover, the Joint Mission extended its appreciation to Cyprus and Lebanon for their facilitation and continuous cooperation.
"A new chapter in the elimination process now begins," said the Joint Mission, which thanked the Italian authorities for providing a port for transloading part of the cargo, after which the rest of the materials will be transported onward to the various destruction facilities.
Notwithstanding the progress made on the chemical weapons front, the Joint Mission said it remained mindful of the human tragedy that has befallen the people of Syria suffering through a conflict that is currently in its fourth year.
"We hope that our contribution will ultimately make a meaningful difference for the Syrian people and the region," it added.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "was very pleased by the completion of this phase of the operation," Stephane Dujarric, Ban 's spokesperson, told reporters here at the Monday daily briefing.
"At the same time, he believes that the challenges of the work the Mission had been doing in an active combat zone cannot be underestimated," said Dujarric.
In a six-point plan unveiled on Friday by Ban to resolve the Syrian crisis, the UN chief stressed that "our fifth imperative is to finish the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria."
A statement issued by his spokesperson later in the day said Ban welcomed the removal of the remaining 7.2 percent of chemical weapons material from Syria, which "now completes and brings to 100% the destruction and removal of the declared chemical weapons material from Syria."
He congratulated the UN-OPCW Joint Mission for completing this most challenging of tasks in an active war zone, and welcomed the cooperation of the Syrian government in assisting the Joint Mission to carry out its tasks.
"He is particularly grateful to the Governments of the People's Republic of China, Denmark, Norway, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States -- who have provided critical resources and support to the operations," said the statement.
Ban said that "when there is political will -- as demonstrated by the successful implementation of the mandated tasks of the Joint Mission -- there can be progress towards peace."
"He demands the same of all involved in Syria, the region and the international community," the statement said.
DAMASCUS, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Syria's entire chemical arsenal was removed on Monday, which indicates the government's serious commitment to its international pledges, Syria's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said the last consignment of the country's chemical program was shipped out on Monday outside the Syrian territories, in accordance to the deal concluded between Syria and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Full Story