Workers dressed in protective clothing, handle a dummy chemical World War II weapon
Workers dressed in protective clothing, handle a dummy chemical World War II weapon during a demonstration in Munster, March 5, 2014. Photo by Reuters
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The international watchdog charged with overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons said Sunday that 80 per cent of the country's stockpile has now been shipped out or destroyed.

"This development will contribute to meeting the 30 June 2014 target set by the OPCW Executive Council for the completion of Syria's entire chemical weapon program," a statement from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said.

Syria destroyed its chemical weapons equipment on schedule within weeks of acceding to the UN Chemical Weapons convention last October, but has previously missed several deadlines for shipping its most lethal chemicals out of the country.

Before recent government successes in an offensive near the Lebanese border, routes between Damascus and the port of Latakia, from which the chemicals are being shipped, were highly dangerous.

Under a UN resolution backed by Russia and the United States after hundreds died in a chemical weapons attack near Damascus in August, Syria is to hand over all of its 1,300 tons of declared chemical weapons for destruction by June.

The most dangerous chemicals are to be eliminated at sea on board a U.S. navy ship, while the remainder will be destroyed by chemical firms in Finland, Britain and the U.S.