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Syria milestone: Chemical weapons materials on ship for destruction

By Khushbu Shah and Jason Hanna, CNN
updated 11:15 AM EST, Tue January 7, 2014
In this photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, Syrian men help survivors out of a building in Aleppo after it was bombed, allegedly by a Syrian regime warplane on Saturday, February 8. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most compelling images taken during the conflict, which is now a civil war: In this photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, Syrian men help survivors out of a building in Aleppo after it was bombed, allegedly by a Syrian regime warplane on Saturday, February 8. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most compelling images taken during the conflict, which is now a civil war:
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(CNN) -- The international effort to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons program hit a milestone Tuesday when a first batch of important chemical material was loaded onto a ship for permanent removal from the country, the group overseeing the work said.

The "priority chemical materials" were put on a Danish commercial ship in the Syrian port of Latakia, and the ship -- escorted by Danish and Norwegian warships -- left for international waters, the Joint Mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations said Tuesday.

Syrian rebel groups fighting each other
Syria misses chemical weapons deadline

The ship will remain at sea until more chemical materials are made available at the Latakia port for pickup. The chemicals eventually will be taken to locations outside Syria for destruction, the group said.

Tuesday's move comes a week after a deadline for the first chemical materials to leave Syria. The mission blamed the delay on "the continuing volatility in overall security conditions" and on "logistical challenges coupled with inclement weather."

Syria's chemical weapons are targeted for removal and elimination by the end of June.

Syria agreed to do so under international pressure last year over allegations the Syrian government used sarin nerve gas in an August 21 attack on a Damascus suburb. U.S. officials said at least 1,400 people died in the attack. Syria denied responsibility, blaming rebel forces.

READ: Doctors hide patients as rebel infighting threatens hospital

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