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Aug 19, 8:45 AM EDT

Watchdog: Syria's chemical weapons destroyed

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AMSTERDAM (AP) -- The organization charged with overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons program says the most crucial part of its operation has been completed.

The Organization for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons said Tuesday that an operation carried out aboard U.S. vessel Cape Ray has destroyed 581 metric tons of a precursor for sarin nerve gas, and 19.8 metric tons of mustard gas. The toxicity of the chemicals was reduced by 99.9 percent by a hydrolysis technique aboard the ship, and the resulting liquid will now be transported to Finland and Germany for final disposal.

OPCW experts ensured that none of the chemicals escaped into the sea, the agency's director-general Ahmet Uzumcu said in a statement.

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