Sarin use in Syria confirmed? Not yet, as Britain waits for UN probe
LONDON - British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Wednesday the UN must independently verify any allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria, after France said there was "no doubt" the regime had used deadly sarin gas.
London said British scientists have also found physiological evidence of the use of sarin inside Syria, likely by the regime, which was passed to the United Nations over a week ago.
"It doesn't tell us, that evidence, about the scale or the frequency of that use, but to us it is very strong evidence that it has been used and that it's been used on more than one occasion," Hague told BBC radio.
"That's extremely worrying, that's why we've referred several incidents of alleged chemical weapons use to the UN secretary general."
Hague insisted however that he was "not jumping to any further conclusion about this", saying: "The next step on this is the UN investigation.
"I think everyone will agree, particularly after all the controversies about Iraq, that it is important for us to have as independent a view as possible, for the United Nations to lead its investigation."
The use of chemical weapons was only one aspect of the conflict in Syria, Hague added, citing other concerns such as the humanitarian crisis, the involvement of Iran and Hezbollah and the brutality of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced on May 10 that Britain had "limited but persuasive information showing that the regime has used and continues to use chemical weapons including sarin".
On Tuesday, France went further, saying it had "no doubt that the gas is being used", and in at least one case, it was by the regime.
Britain's Foreign Office confirmed earlier Wednesday that its own tests had already identified the use of sarin in Syria which were "very likely to have been by the regime".
"We have obtained physiological samples from inside Syria which have been tested at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down," a statement 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."
It added: "We have no evidence to date of opposition use."
A spokesman later confirmed that this evidence was the same that had already been passed to the UN in recent weeks.