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In an interview with The Associated Press, Borge Brende said 50 servicemen usually accompany a Norwegian frigate and Brende acknowledged the operation is “not risk-free.”

Just getting the chemical weapons to a Syrian port while the country is in the middle of a civil war will be a high-risk operation.

Sigrid Kaag, the Dutch diplomat running the joint United Nations-OPCW mission in Syria, told the meeting in The Hague her team is “conducting its business in an active war zone, in an extreme security situation with serious implications for the safety” of all personnel.

Syria’s conflict — now in its third year — has killed more than 120,000 people, according to activists, and displaced millions. It started as an uprising against Assad’s rule but later turned into a civil war. The fighting has pitted Assad’s government forces against a disunited array of rebel factions, including al-Qaida-linked extremists.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said Friday that a government airstrike the previous night in northern Syria killed a senior rebel figure and wounded two commanders and the spokesman of the Tawhid Brigade, the main rebel outfit in Aleppo province.

According to the Observatory, the chief commander of the brigade, Abdul-Qadir Saleh, was wounded while the brigade’s financial officer, Abu Tayeb, was killed.

Government troops have advanced in Aleppo over the past weeks, capturing strategic parts of the province, including the town of Safira, which secured a supply flow to government-held areas in the north.

Also Friday, Syria’s state-run news agency SANA said troops now have full control of the central towns Hawarin and Mahin, where last week rebels captured small parts of a sprawling army complex. The area is known for its arms depot.

SANA said dozens of rebels have been killed in days of fighting and troops “destroyed a number of hideouts and big quantities of weapons.”

The Observatory reported heavy fighting in Mahin and Hawarin.

Associated Press writers Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Nebi Qena in Tirana, Albania, contributed to this report.