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Syrian chemicals incinerated in UK
7:13pm Wednesday 6th August 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Almost 200 tonnes of Syrian chemicals have been destroyed in a UK incinerator, Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood has announced.
The chemicals - an entire stockpile of one type known as "B precursors" and 44 tonnes of hydrochloric acid - arrived in Britain three weeks ago as part of international efforts to remove chemical weapons from the regime of president Bashar Assad.
Mr Ellwood said the work was an important step but warned there continued to be "credible reports" industrial chemicals such as chlorine were still being used in the Syrian civil war.
The destroyed chemicals were part of Syria's weapons programme and could have been used to manufacture nerve agent.
The UK committed to handling the destruction of 15% of Syria's stockpiles. Work has now been completed at Ellesmere Port, in a high-temperature incinerator operated by Veolio.
Mr Ellwood said: "By destroying these chemicals, the United Kingdom has played its part in the international effort to ensure that Assad's chemical weapons can never again be used against the Syrian people.
"The removal, and now the destruction in four countries, of the declared Syrian chemical stockpile show what can be achieved when the international community, including Russia, agrees to work together for the common good.
"The challenge remains to bring that same unity to bear in securing a political settlement to end this appalling conflict. Such a settlement is all the more urgent as the conflict continues to claim hundreds of lives each month, despite the efforts of the moderate opposition to protect the Syrian people from both Assad and extremists."
Mr Ellwood said there were still "gaps and inconsistencies" in Syria's declarations on chemical weapons and warned these must be resolved.
He said there were credible reports that some chemical attacks were still taking place and that the interim conclusions of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' fact finding mission suggested these were being "systematically orchestrated".
Mr Ellwood said: "The mission must leave no stone unturned in its investigation, and the perpetrators of such barbaric acts must be held accountable."
Chemicals have also been destroyed in the United States, Germany and Finland.
A further six tonnes of hydrogen fluoride will be destroyed by a second UK company later this year.