Syrian chemicals heading for Cheshire after UK arrival

Image caption The chemical consignment is being checked by experts

The UK has taken delivery of more than 200 tonnes of toxic chemicals from Syria.

The consignment arrived at Southampton and is being checked by experts before being transported by road to Ellesmere Port in Cheshire for incineration.

It will be destroyed by Veolia Environmental Services, a French firm at the port.

Veolia and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said the material had no "chemical weapon agents".

It comprised "precursor chemicals" that "are handled and destroyed by industry on a routine basis", a spokesman said.

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The Syria chemicals

•50 tonnes of Grade B precursors (components for poison gas including Sarin but only lethal when combined with the right amount of other chemicals)

•44 tonnes of hydrochloric acid (part of the additional 50 tonnes announced by the government at Prime Minister's Questions last week) also heading for Ellesmere Port

•Six tonnes of hydrogen fluoride, to be disposed of separately in "a chemical bath"

The convoy is expected to be comprised of up to 15 lorries and police are understood to be aware of its route and timings.

Whitehall officials say the contents are within Department of Transport safety guidelines.

Syria agreed to the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile last year.

The deal - backed by the UN and brokered by the US and Russia - was struck amid the threat of US air strikes, triggered by a sarin gas attack on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus.

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