Two Scandinavian escort ships waiting to remove Syria’s chemical weapons have returned to Cyprus empty handed.
Damascus had agreed to hand over some of its most deadly toxins from the Syrian port of Latakia on December 31, but failed to show.
Officials from the ‘Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ had expected the deadline to be missed.
“We understand that a number of factors have added up which have made the Syrian authorities unable to meet this December 31 deadline – the poor weather in certain parts of Syria is one of these factors and, of course, the volatility of the security situation,” explained OPCW spokesman Christian Chartier.
The December date was supposed to have been the first milestone of a deal brokered by the US and Russia to rid Syria of its chemical weapons arsenal by June 2014.
In a separate development, an anti-President Bashar al-Assad monitoring group based in Britain estimates that at least 130,000 people have been killed in the conflict since it began in March 2011.