Russian diplomat says Dec. 31 deadline to remove Syrian chemical weapons won't be met

A top Russian diplomat says the Dec. 31 deadline for removing the most toxic of Syria's chemical weapons won't be met.

According to a timeline agreed upon earlier, the most toxic chemicals were to have been removed by the end of the year.

But Ahmet Uzumcu, head of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, had earlier indicated delays were possible due to heavy fighting.

On Friday, after a meeting of Russian, U.S. and other experts on Syrian chemical weapons, the Foreign Ministry's disarmament department head, Mikhail Ulyanov, was quoted as telling the Interfax news agency "We of course won't succeed by Dec. 31."

He said it was unclear when the work might begin and that it probably wouldn't be announced in advance due to concerns of rebel interference.