Cameron says tests confirm use of sarin nerve gas in attack
Results differ from those obtained by US
British prime minister David Cameron and German chancellor Angela Merkel (mingle before the first working meeting of the G20 summit.
Speaking at the start of G20 summit in St Petersburg, the prime minister questioned how Labour could live with itself for taking “the easy political way out” in last week’s Commons vote, a decision he said had been taken in the knowledge that children had been gassed to death in eastern Damascus.
Mr Cameron said he took “full and personal responsibility for the decision to recall parliament, for the decision to take a strong and principled stand against the gassing of children in Syria, and I take full responsibility for putting forward as generous a motion I could, to bring as many people with me as I could. Everyone who voted has to live with the way that they voted.”
Clothes and soil
The positive tests for sarin were completed this week and made on clothes and soil taken from the site of the attack in Ghouta, eastern Damascus, on August 21st. The tests were carried out in the past seven days by British scientists at the Porton Down facility in southern England, and will be used by Mr Cameron in a fresh attempt to persuade Russian president Vladimir Putin to do more to force Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to the negotiating table.
The samples brought to the UK from the Syrian borders are different to the hair and blood samples tested in the US. Details of those test results were released by US secretary of state John Kerry four days ago.
British sources did not give further details of the precise content of the UK tests, but said they were confident the samples had not been tampered with during their passage to the Syrian border, and then to the UK.
The results of the separate UN weapons inspectors’ onsite tests in Syria have yet to be revealed, but are likely to be known around the time the US Congress votes on whether to back military action next week.
British intelligence has already produced an assessment that it does not believe the rebel forces had the capacity to mount a chemical attack, but Mr Putin has been arguing that this is the case.
On the agenda
After refusing to put the issue of Syria on to the agenda, Mr Putin relented yesterday and said the crisis would be discussed over dinner at the summit. Discussions during the afternoon had concentrated on economic matters.
Mr Cameron expressed scepticism that the fresh evidence might be “a game changer” in what is becoming an increasingly bitter international debate.– (Guardian service)