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Report: Britain carried out secret tests for Syria gas victims

Published: Updated:

Victims of the purported Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria were sent to Britain for secret testing, British newspaper The Sunday Times quoted a senior Syrian opposition leader as saying this week.

The report stated that about three people who were wounded in the attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta last month underwent testing in the UK to assess the validity of chemical weapons claims.

The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces revealed that the tests had taken place and said that its leadership was updated about the victims’ conditions on visit to London last week, reported The Sunday Times.

Ahmad al-Jarba, the president of the Syrian coalition, said he had been made aware of a “small number” of victims who had been flown to the UK for treatment.

“The president was told [on Thursday] during a meeting that the results from the examinations confirmed traces of sarin gas on these individuals,” said Hadi Albahra, the secretary of the political committee within the coalition. “They are in a stable condition but they found traces of sarin gas inside their systems.”

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it could not confirm the coalition’s statement, which came as news emerged that U.S. strike aircraft have been banned from using British military bases for launching possible air attacks on Syria.
This almost unprecedented step is believed to be the first time such a restriction has been imposed since the Second World War and comes David Cameron told world leaders last week that Britain had confirmed sarin, a nerve agent, was used in the Syrian attack that claimed about 1,400 victims, according to opposition provided figures.

President Barack Obama has directed the Pentagon to develop an expanded list of targets in Syria.

Obama, keen to avoid another costly conflict, confirmed that there will be “no American boots on the ground,” in a speech last week.

“What we’re talking about is not an open-ended intervention…This would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan,” he said.

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