31 Dec 2013

Chemical weapons mission delayed

6:19 pm on 31 December 2013

Norwegian ships taking part in a mission to collect Syria's chemical weapons stockpile have changed course and are returning to Cyprus.

A United Nations deadline of 31 December for the removal of the country's most toxic chemicals will be missed.

The Norwegian vessels turned back after the hazardous containers failed to arrive for collection at the port of Latakia.

Failing to meet the target will demonstrate the difficulties involved in operating in a country with constantly changing frontlines, even with an international mandate and the cooperation of President Bashar al-Assad, the BBC reports.

It is not known exactly when the Norwegian ships will return to the region. Russian and Chinese boats will also be there to ensure the safe loading and transportation of the weapons.