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Use of British chemicals in Syria poison gas 'likely'

BRITISH chemicals and equipment are likely to have been used to make poison gas by the Syrian government, the Foreign Secretary admitted yesterday.

William Hague said records showed a number of companies exported legal substances to Syria between 1983 and 1986 that can be used in the production of chemical weapons.

In 2003 legal ventilation fans were shipped to the regime, which the government also believes were used.

“We judge it likely that these chemical exports by UK companies were subsequently used by Syria in their programmes to produce nerve agents, including sarin,” Mr Hague told MPs in a written statement.

“The review of our records also confirmed an export of ventilation fans by a UK company to Syria in 2003. Syria appears to have diverted these fans for use in a chemical weapons facility.”

A report by the UN last year found that chemical weapons had been used in the Syrian civil war and against civilians. Both sides have blamed the other for their use.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament general secretary Kate Hudson said: “It is atrocious that in 2003 the UK was still selling electrical components to Syria which could be used in its chemical weapons programme.

“That the UK supplied Syria with key ingredients for chemical weapons during the 1980s should come as no surprise.”

Stop the War vice-chairman Chris Nineham lamented that the revelations were true to British form.

He said: “The fact that Britain helped arm the Syrian regime which it has now turned against is not a historical oddity.”

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