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U.S. Says Syria’s Chemical Weapons Stockpile Is Destroyed

The U.S. said Monday that all of Syria's declared chemical weapon stockpile has been destroyed.

The weapons were destroyed aboard the U.S. cargo vessel MV Cape Ray in international waters, the Associated Press reported.

President Obama said it was an important step in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, but added that the government of President Bashar al-Assad must act on pledges to destroy its other weapons production facilities.

The New York Times called the announcement "a rare foreign policy achievement for President Obama at a time when the Middle East is embroiled in violence and political turmoil."

Assad used the deadly gas sarin in a Damascus suburb one year ago, killing more than 1,000 people. Obama said the regime had crossed a red line and threatened missile strikes in retaliation, but entered talks instead when Assad agreed to surrender the weapons.

"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.

Assad's stockpile of 1,300 tons of chemical agents were transferred onto the U.S. cargo ship Cape Ray, where they were destroyed in international waters.

Secretary of State John Kerry told the Times that Assad's remaining weapons still present a threat.

In other news regarding Syria, the Federal Aviation Administration blocked the flight of U.S. planes over the country. Extremist opposition groups have shot down Syrian military aircraft and pose a serious threat to commercial planes, AP reported.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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