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First batch of chemical weapons to be destroyed leaves Syria

Jan. 7, 2014 at 3:59 PM

LATAKIA, Syria, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The first Syrian chemical weapons scheduled for destruction were loaded onto a ship for removal from the country, the overseeing group announced Tuesday.

Syria agreed to the dismantling of its chemical weapons supply by June 2014 after international pressure in 2013.

The first batch of "priority chemical materials" were loaded onto a Danish commercial ship Tuesday in the Syrian port of Latakia, and escorted by Norwegian and Danish warships, left for international waters, the Joint Mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations said.

The chemical weapons will be destroyed aboard a specially-prepared vessel on the high seas, CNN said.

The American naval vessel, outfitted to neutralize the chemicals in the weapons, has been on standby in the Atlantic Ocean, awaiting the delivery, the New York Times said.

The transfer comes a week after the deadline for the first chemical materials to leave Syria, a delay the mission blamed on "the continuing volatility in all security conditions" and on "logistical challenges coupled with inclement weather."

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