U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is applauding the handing over of Syria's chemical weapons to Western governments as a significant step toward diminishing the threat of chemical warfare in the region.

But Kerry, who met with Iraq's top Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders, also warned that the use of chlorine gas is a serious issue.

The final eight percent of the 1,300-ton stockpile, which includes mustard gas and raw materials for making sarin nerve gas, have been loaded onto Danish and Norwegian ships in the Syrian port of Latakia.

Syria's government agreed to surrender its arsenal last fall when the U.S. threatened punitive missile strikes after a deadly chemical attack on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus.