THE HAGUE, Netherlands, March 20 (UPI) -- Nearly half of the declared chemical weapons in Syria have been removed from the country, a U.N. monitoring mission said Thursday.
A joint mission between the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it verified a shipment of so-called Priority 1 chemicals left a Syrian port Thursday. Combined with other agents, 49.3 percent of the declared chemicals have now been transported outside the country for destruction.
"As the removal process continues, a team of OPCW experts is currently in Syria to facilitate the formulation of a plan to destroy certain structures that housed Syria's chemical weapons production facilities," the mission said in a statement.
The OPCW adopted a plan in November for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles. The deadline to destroy the entire stockpile is June 30.
Syria's civil war entered its fourth year this week. It started as a peaceful protest against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the 2011 Arab Spring.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said last week more than 146,000 people have died as a result of the conflict.