Syria will miss a December 31 deadline for the removal of part of its chemical weapons arsenal for destruction, but international inspectors insisted the overall mission is still on track.
The delay came as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 130,000 people had been killed since the conflict began in March 2011, with the overwhelming majority caused by conventional arms.
The prospects for a peace conference slated for next month appeared to dim further, with Syrian media reporting the delivery of invitations to the meeting had been delayed.
Syria had been due to turn over some of the deadliest chemicals in its arsenal to ships by the end of the year, for delivery to a US boat which is to destroy them at sea.
But Norwegian and Danish vessels that had been waiting off the Syrian coast returned to port in Cyprus late Monday as it became clear the mission would not go ahead as scheduled.
I’ve always assumed the Russian-brokered deal would eventually get rid of Syria’s chemical weapons, even if the schedule wasn’t met. Doing this kind of thing isn’t easy during peacetime. Besides, it’s the price Russia was willing to accept for de facto American acquiescence to the survival of the Assad regime.
You can always make more chemical agents, should the need arise. But installing a friendly brutal dictator is hard.