President Obama announced Monday that U.S. forces have completed the destruction of Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile weeks ahead of schedule.

“This is a major milestone in the international community’s efforts under the leadership of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to rid the Syrian regime of its chemical weapons,” Obama said.

“It further advances our collective goal to ensure that the regime [of Syrian President Bashar Assad] cannot use its chemical arsenal against the Syrian people and sends a clear message that the use of these abhorrent weapons has consequences and will not be tolerated by the international community.”

The weapons were destroyed on the M/V Cape Ray, a 648-foot U.S. container ship.

As the Islamic State has taken control of more areas in Iraq and Syria, critics of Obama's Syria policies have ratcheted up their criticism.

Hillary Clinton, secretary of state in Obama's first term, was harshly critical last week and has said she would have armed Syrian rebels early on. But late last week she apologized to Obama and said the two would "hug out" their differences at a party both were attending on Martha's Vineyard.

Others have specifically criticized Obama for backing away from his "red line" threat and failing to launch airstrikes against Assad when he used chemical weapons against Syrian rebels last year.

Obama has dismissed the criticism, however.

In his statement Monday, Obama pledged that U.S. and its international allies will continue to hold Syria to its commitment to destroy its remaining chemical weapons production facilities and scrutinize alleged discrepancies and omissions about Syria’s chemical stockpile and whether the Assad regime is continuing to use them against citizens.