Report: 60 percent of Syrian chemical weapons stockpile eliminated

The U.S. on Tuesday updated the United Nations on efforts to eliminate Bashar Assad’s stockpile of deadly weapons, reporting that roughly 60 percent of Syria’s known chemical weapons had been neutralized.

U.N. envoys also received a videoconference briefing from Sigrid Kaag, the leader of the international effort to eliminate Syria’s toxic agents, according to The Associated Press.

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The chemicals include raw materials that can be used to produce sarin, a nerve agent, and mustard gas.

Kaag told member states that the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had also devised methods to destroy the 12 declared chemical production facilities in Syria, according to British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, the current president of the Security Council.

That operation should take six months to complete, he said.

Britain will also wrap up its destruction of Syria’s chemical precursors, which are used for the production of chemical weapons and hydrochloric acid, "in the course of this week," the diplomat added.

The Assad government agreed to surrender its chemical stockpile last year after the U.S. threatened missile strikes after a chemical attack on rebel forces in Damascus that is believed to have killed more than 1,000 people.

Last month, about 661 tons of toxic agents were loaded onto the U.S. Cape Ray, docked in Gioia Tauro, Italy. The ship then sailed to international waters and began the two-month process of destroying the deadly arsenal.

However, questions remain over whether Syria has disclosed all of its chemical weapons and facilities. The OPCW in June released data showing that “toxic chemicals” such as chlorine were used in a number of attacks in Syria this year.

The regime did not have to declare its stockpile of chlorine as part of the disarmament deal since it is often used for commercial and domestic purposes.