UN begins to destroy Syria’s weapons cache

United Nations inspectors in Syria began destroying President Bashar Assad’s stockpile of chemical weapons over the weekend. 

Secretary of State John Kerry said it was "significant" that the work started so quickly following the unanimous passage of a U.N. resolution and called it a "good beginning" to the process.

“I think it is extremely significant that yesterday, Sunday, within a week of the resolution being passed, some chemical weapons were already being destroyed,” Kerry said Monday. 

“I think it’s also credit to the Assad regime for complying rapidly, as they are supposed to. Now, we hope that will continue. I’m not going to vouch today for what happens months down the road, but it’s a good beginning, and we should welcome a good beginning.”

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Kerry spoke with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on his trip abroad in Indonesia. Russia is credited with proposing the diplomatic plan that averted a U.S. military strike on Syria last month. 

“Foreign Minister Lavrov and I discussed our mutual goal, which we are extraordinarily focused on, of ending the war in Syria through a political transition to a more broadly acceptable democratic government, under the terms of the Geneva communiqué,” Kerry said. “We agreed, again, that there is no military solution here.”

The Obama administration threatened military intervention against Assad after a chemical attack in August, which the State Department said left more than 1,400 dead, including many children. President Obama has since put the military option on hold but insists it remains on the table. 

Both Kerry and Lavrov also expressed concern about the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Civilians have recently faced obstacles receiving international aid. 

Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, the U.N. says more than 100,000 people have died.