British government says it will help destroy Syria weapons stockpile

(REUTERS) - Britain has agreed to destroy part of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile at a commercial facility and escort Scandinavian ships transporting the toxic cargo, the British government said on Friday.

Roughly 150 tonnes of industrial chemicals will be transported from Syria by ship to a port in Britain, the Foreign Office said in a statement.

The regime of Bashar al-Assad declared 1,300 tonnes of chemical weapons to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which won the Nobel peace prize this year.

Under a tight deadline agreed with the United States and Russia, Damascus has until December 31 to relinquish the most toxic chemicals. Its entire chemical weapons program must be dismantled by mid-2014.

The deal may have averted US missile strikes threatened after hundreds of people were killed in the outskirts of Damsacus on Aug. 21, the worst poison gas attack in a quarter century.

No company was named by the Foreign Office, but Veolia Environment VE, a French-based firm with chemical incineration plants in Britain, has been approached by the British government, sources said.