United Nations: The United Nations Organisation 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," Xinhua quoted the international team of experts overseeing the elimination of chemical weapons programme in Syria as saying 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 programme 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 12 production facilities that are awaiting a decision by the Executive Council of OPCW, all of the declared Syrian chemical weapons programme 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 US ship and destroying them at sea.
Recognising 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, the UK and the US -- 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.
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 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 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."