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WESTMINSTER Over the summer, no one will have failed to

notice the horrific reports coming from Syria. As recess was about to come to a close, Parliament was recalled to consider the international commu- nity’s response to the atrocious reports of the use of chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb. This is a hugely complicated and emotive

issue that deserves proper analysis and thought and one which hundreds of constituents contacted me about. I know there are strongly held opinions and

deeply felt concerns about the appalling violence and humanitarian crisis that is still unfolding in Syria. I welcome the Government’s steps to provide additional and vital humanitarian support to those affected by the conflict and their efforts to con- vene a second Geneva peace conference to try to bring the violence to an end. I know from Syrian constituents who have

family members in Damascus that the situation is extremely volatile and dangerous. They are under no illusions as to the perpetrator of such heinous crimes against the people of Syria. I have helped dozens of Syrians living in

Edinburgh South to get their families out of the country and assisted with allowing Syrian students to stay in Scotland following the completion of their studies. Some have had family members killed by the Assad regime and many have had their lives ruined. The situation on the ground is desper- ate and the international community need to find a


way to stop the bloodshed and deal with the hu- manitarian issue. The use of chemical weapons is, of course,

abhorrent and has rightly been condemned in Par- liament. It is preferable though, if it is possible, to remove the threat of chemical weapons from Syria without having to resort to force and it was clear from the votes in the House of Commons two weeks ago that there was real concern that Britain was being pushed too quickly toward military ac- tion.

The joint announcement from the United

States and Russia that chemical weapons deal was agreed with Syria is a significant step forward on the road to identify, secure and destroy Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons. This justifies the position that was taken in Parliament and I was glad to have voted against military action. On top of this, the UN weapons inspectors

have also produced ‘overwhelming and indisputa- ble’ evidence that Sarin gas was used in a rocket attack in the Syrian capital Damascus last month. The recent report by the weapons inspec-

tors underlines the urgency and importance of now implementing that US-Russian agreement on the removal and destruction of Assad’s chemical weap- ons stockpiles. I hope that the UK government, along with

the international community, will use all its powers to ensure that agreement is followed through ur- gently.

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