Britain says samples from Syria test positive for sarin

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Britain said Wednesday that physiological samples from Syria had tested positive for sarin gas and there was growing information that the regime was using chemical weapons.

London said it thought any chemical weapons use in Syria was “highly likely” the responsibility of the regime and called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to allow United Nations investigators unrestricted access.

“The material from inside Syria tested positive for sarin,” a government spokesman said.

“There is a growing body of limited but persuasive information showing that the regime used -- and continues to use -- chemical weapons, including sarin.

“The room for doubt continues to diminish. This is extremely concerning. Use of chemical weapons is a war crime. Assad must grant immediate and unrestricted access to the UN investigation team.”

The spokesman said samples had been tested at the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory on the government's Porton Down military science park in southern England.

“We have obtained physiological samples from inside Syria which have been tested at DSTL,” he said.

“The material from inside Syria tested positive for sarin. We are not able to go into any further detail on the samples -- beyond saying that they are physiological.

“Our assessment is that chemical weapons use in Syria is very likely to have been by the regime. Chemical weapons use is a serious crime in any circumstances, but we have no evidence to date of opposition use,” the spokesman said.

“Assad built up the stocks of these weapons, trained military units to use them and retains command and control over those units. So the urgent responsibility lies with him to stop them being used, secure them and allow a full and unimpeded investigation of what is going on.”

The European Union agreed last week to lift its embargo against arming Syrian rebels after tough talks that exposed sharp differences between Britain and France, champions of the move, and their more reluctant partners.

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