U.K., France Say Medical Samples From Syria Show Presence of Sarin

Syrian loyalist troops take position during fighting with rebels in the city of Aleppo last month. The United Kingdom and France say they have evidence that sarin nerve agent has been used in the Syrian civil war (AP Photo/Syrian Arab News Agency).
Syrian loyalist troops take position during fighting with rebels in the city of Aleppo last month. The United Kingdom and France say they have evidence that sarin nerve agent has been used in the Syrian civil war (AP Photo/Syrian Arab News Agency).

The United Kingdom joined France on Tuesday in declaring that testing of bodily fluids secreted out of Syria has confirmed the presence of the nerve agent sarin, the London Guardian reported.

The biological samples were gathered from people injured in multiple apparent chemical weapons strikes in Syria, the British Foreign Office said. Testing took place at the Defense Ministry's Porton Down laboratory.

Paris has provided the results of its testing of Syrian medical samples to Ake Sellstrom, who is heading the U.N. task force assigned to probe allegations of chemical weapons use in the war against the Assad government, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

He did not say whether Paris has determined who carried out the sarin attacks. Blood samples smuggled out of Syria and obtained by the French armed forces revealed that sarin was one ingredient in a complex "cocktail" of chemicals, according to the French broadcaster Europe 1.

The British government said there is a "growing body of limited but persuasive information" that suggests sarin has been used in Syria, the New York Times reported.

Fabius said the Bashar Assad regime has "undoubtedly" breached the "red line" laid down by France, the United States, and other Western nations on the use of weapons of mass destruction in the Syrian civil war, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Washington, Paris, and London are in talks about the proper response to the apparent multiple chemical attacks, he said. "All options are on the table. That means either we decide not to react or we decide to react including by armed actions targeting the place where the gas is stored."

The Obama administration on Tuesday said it wants more comprehensive evidence of chemical warfare materials use in Syria, Xinhua separately reported. "We need to expand the evidence we have ... we need to have it corroborated before we make any decisions based on the clear violation that use of chemicals would represent by the Syrian regime," White House spokesman Jay Carney said to reporters.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel discussed the matter with Canadian, British, and French counterparts on Tuesday in Brussels, Belgium, an anonymous U.S. official told the Associated Press. The defense chiefs during their meeting did not agree on any concrete responses.

There remains no indication of NATO intervention in the civil war, AP reported on Wednesday.

On Wednesday in Geneva, U.N., U.S., and Russian officials were unable in a meeting to bridge differences surrounding their plans to convene an international peace conference to end the Syrian conflict, which has already killed in excess of 80,000 people, according to Reuters.

"The most difficult question is the circle of participants in the conference," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov was quoted by Interfax as saying. The conference will not be happening this month, as was earlier anticipated, he said.

"The whole issue is that the Syrian opposition, unlike the government, has not made a fundamental decision about its participation in this conference," Gatilov said.

The main Syrian opposition coalition has said it will not take part in the peace talks if Iran and Hezbollah are also at the conference.

Russia has yet to be moved by the "best evidence" presented to it by the United States of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime, unidentified U.S. officials told AP on Tuesday.

June 5, 2013
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The United Kingdom joined France on Tuesday in declaring that testing of bodily fluids secreted out of Syria has confirmed the presence of the nerve agent sarin, the London Guardian reported.

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