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First batch of chemical weapons taken out of Syria

Men helped wounded children after what activists said was a government airstrike on a section of Damascus on Tuesday.
Men helped wounded children after what activists said was a government airstrike on a section of Damascus on Tuesday. Credit: Bassam Khabieh/Reuters

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BEIRUT (AP) — The first batch of the most dangerous chemicals in Syria’s arsenal was loaded onto a Danish ship and taken out of the country Tuesday under tight security, an important milestone in the international operation to rid President Bashar Assad of the weapons by midyear.

The operation at Syria’s port of Latakia took place against the backdrop of a widening civil war and escalating infighting between a chaotic mix of Syrian rebel brigades and an Al Qaeda-linked militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

With the rebel-on-rebel fighting now in its fifth day, the shadowy leader of another faction affiliated with Al Qaeda pleaded with his comrades to stop the spreading clashes, warning it threatened to upend gains made against Syrian government forces.

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