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Britain sends warships to aid destruction of Syria's chemical weapons


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Britain is sending Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose to assist in the international effort to remove Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, William Hague announced.


Britain also plans to give the US equipment worth £2.5 million and training to help it destroy the arsenal more quickly.


The Foreign Secretary said it was a "strong example of international co-operation" and added that there were plans for a "major" new donation in an effort to ease Syria's humanitarian crisis.


Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, agreed to destroy his country's chemical weapons stockpile following international condemnation of the sarin gas attacks on his own people in Ghouta, a Damascus suburb, in August.


Mr Hague warned that achieving an end to the civil war remained "challenging" and accused Syria's government of committing "yet another war crime" by spraying civilian areas with barrel bombs – oil drums or cylinders packed with explosives and metal fragments and dropped from aircraft.


British counter-terrorism police arrested two men at Heathrow Airport yesterday on suspicion of terrorism offences linked to Syria. The men, both aged 21 and from Birmingham, were held after arriving back in Britain on a flight from Istanbul in Turkey, West Midlands Police said.


They are believed to have travelled to Syria in May 2013.


Mr Hague said that "hundreds" of Britons were believed to have gone to fight in Syria but said security forces were doing their best to monitor the situation.


Activists in Syria claimed yesterday that dozens of people in the southern suburbs of Damascus had died of starvation after spending months living on scraps of food, trapped in one of the worst sieges of the civil war.


John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said Assad might finally allow some humanitarian convoys into parts of Damascus – but activists said that would be too late for the 68 people who had starved to death in recent days.

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