Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the United States has finished eliminating Syrian President Bashar Assad's declared chemical weapons arsenal aboard the U.S. cargo vessel MV Cape Ray in international waters. Kerry hailed the destruction of the stockpile as a "milestone," adding that it comes ahead of the one-year anniversary of a horrific chemical weapons strike in the suburbs of Damascus that U.S. officials say was carried out by the Assad regime.
In a statement, Kerry said "(n)o one can or ever will wipe away that memory" of the August 21, 2013, attack that U.S. officials say killed 1,426 people, including hundreds of children. "The images of children suffering at the hands of a monster's illicit arsenal reminded all the world why these weapons have long been shunned by the civilized world and revealed for any who still doubted the true face of Assad."
Syria agreed to give up its chemical arsenal last fall when President Barack Obama threatened missile strikes in retaliation for the Damascus attack. "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 written statement Monday.
— Daniel Arkin and The Associated Press