80% of Syrian chemical weapons shipped out: monitors

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The head of the international team overseeing the destruction of Syria\’s chemical arms says the country has shipped out or destroyed nearly 80 percent of its declared weapons material.
Sigrid Kaag, special coordinator of the joint mission of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said if the momentum is sustained, Syria should be able to meet the deadline set by OPCW for the destruction of the weapons before the end of April. 
Kaag said the renewed pace in movements is "positive and necessary" to ensure progress for the tight deadline. 
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed to destroy Syria\’s stockpile of chemical weapons after mounting international pressure following the deaths of hundreds of people in a sarin gas attack on the outskirts of Damascus last year. 
Washington and its Western allies blamed Mr. Assad\’s forces for unleashing the nerve agent. The Syrian government blamed the rebels in Syria\’s civil war, which is now in its fourth year.
More than 140,000 people have been killed and another 2.5 million have fled the country since Syria\’s civil war began in March 2011. 
The conflict started with mass street protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and turned into an insurgency after a violent crackdown on demonstrators.
Source: Agencies
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