Washington: US President Barack Obama has lauded the destruction of Syria`s chemical weapons stockpile, which was carried out on board a US Navy ship on the Mediterranean Sea, and urged Damascus to fulfill its commitment to destroy its remaining production facilities.
"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 most lethal declared chemical weapons possessed by the Syrian regime were destroyed by dedicated US civilian and military professionals using a unique American capability aboard the M/V Cape Ray and they did so aboard that US vessel several weeks ahead of schedule," he said.
This is a major milestone in the international community`s efforts under the leadership of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to rid the Syrian regime of its chemical weapons, Obama said.
"It further advances our collective goal to ensure that the Asad regime cannot use its chemical arsenal against the Syrian people and sends a clear message that the use of these abhorrent weapons has consequences and will not be tolerated by the international community," said the US President.
Earlier in the day, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called Navy Captain Rich Dromerhauser aboard the US ship MV Cape Ray to congratulate the ship`s crew on finishing their "unprecedented" work of neutralizing, at sea, the most dangerous chemicals in Syria`s declared stockpile.
Hagel said that by ridding the world of these materials, they - as part of an ongoing international effort to eliminate the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal - have helped make an important and enduring contribution to global security.
"We mark a milestone in our unrelenting work to ensure the end of the Assad regime`s deadly chemical arsenal: The United States has finished neutralizing the regime`s deadliest chemical weapons aboard the Cape Ray," Secretary of State John Kerry said.
He said that Syria must complete the destruction of its remaining chemical weapons production facilities within mandated timelines.
The US is deeply concerned by reports of systematic use of chlorine gas in opposition areas, as described by the fact-finding mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, he said adding that each and every one of these issues must be fully resolved.