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Hague: UK probably supplied chemicals to Syria

William Hague speaking in the House of Commons. Credit: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

British firms probably supplied the chemicals that have been used to make the nerve agent sarin in Syria, according to Foreign Secretary William Hague.

In a written statement to MPs he said that between 1983 and 1986 a review of the records showed a number of companies exported substances but they had legitimate uses for producing plastics and pharmaceuticals and they were not restricted under UK or international law.

He added: "From the information we hold, we judge it likely that these chemical exports by UK companies were subsequently used by Syria in their programmes to produce nerve agents, including sarin.Some of the companies involved no longer exist."

A UK chemical trader may have sourced some of the substances in question rather than producing them in the UK, he wrote.

Hague said Britain was "playing its full part" in the international effort to eliminate Syria's programme and he expected a ship carrying chemicals to be destroyed will arrive from the country next week.

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Mugshots of Birmingham terror pair released

Mugshots of two men from Birmingham who travelled to Syria to fight have been released after they earlier admitted preparing to carry out terrorist attacks.

Childhood friends Mohammed Nahin Ahmed and Yusuf Zubair Sarwar, both 22, spent eight months in Syria last year, before being arrested at Heathrow Airport on their return home in January.

West Midlands Police released images of the pair posing with rifles during their visit to the war-torn country.

Mohammed Nahin Ahmed. Credit: West Midlands Police
Yusuf Sarwar. Credit: West Midlands Police

Read: Families of both men pleaded with them to return from Syria

Judge delays sentencing in Birmingham terror case

Nahin Ahmed holding a toy gun - pre travel to Syria - in an image taken from his computer. Credit: West Midlands Police

Judge Topolski QC has said he would not pass sentence on the two men until a Court of Appeal decision about a similar case had been heard later this summer.

However, sentencing is due to open this afternoon.

The judge earlier told the court that he was willing to offer a reduction in sentence if the defendants were to plead guilty.

He described the case as a "grave one".

More: Syria terror men told parents they were on holiday in Turkey

Families of both men urged them to return from Syria

Nahin Ahmed and Yusuf Zubair Sarwar Credit: West Midlands Police

The families of Mohammed Nahin Ahmed and Yusuf Zubair Sarwar urged both men to return home when they realised they had gone to fight in Syria.

Sarwar's family reported him missing to police in May last year after they found a hand-written letter from him in which said he had left to join a terrorist group called Kataib al Muhajireen (KaM)- later renamed Kateeba al-Kawthar - "to do jihad".

Part of Sawar's letter to his family in which he says he is going to wage Jihad in Syria. Credit: West Midlands Police

Days earlier he had told his family he was travelling to Turkey as part of a two-week trip organised by Birmingham City University, where he was a part-time computer science student.

West Midlands Police said the men showed the mind-set to go and join the jihad in Syria, before carrying out research, buying equipment, and finally travelling a well-trod route to get inside the battle zone via Turkey.

More: Birmingham men posed with rifles during visit to Syria

Birmingham men posed with rifles during visit to Syria

Sawar pictured in Syria. Credit: West Midlands Police

Two men from Birmingham who have pleaded guilty to terrorism offences today spent eight months in Syria fighting against the country's regime.

Childhood friends Mohammed Nahin Ahmed and Yusuf Zubair Sarwar, both 22, from the Handsworth area of Birmingham, spent eight months in the war-torn country last year after contacting Islamic extremists from the UK.

Ahmed poses with an automatic rifle in Syria Credit: West Midlands Police

More: Birmingham men plead guilty to Syria terror charges

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Syria terror men lied they were on holiday in Turkey

Yusuf Sarwar and Nahin Ahmed of Farcroft Avenue - both aged 22 - pleaded guilty at Woolwich Crown Court today. Credit: West Midlands Police

Two young men from Birmingham who have pleaded guilty to preparing acts of terrorism while in Syria, had lied to their parents they were actually on holiday in Turkey.

Yusuf Sarwar and Nahin Ahmed, who are both 22 and from Handsworth, bought one-way tickets in May 2013 then crossed the Syrian border to train with rebel fighters.

They were arrested by officers from the West Midlands Police counter terrorism unit when they returned to Heathrow on a flight from Istanbul in January this year.

Traces of military grade explosives were found on their clothing and pictures on their camera showed them brandishing weapons.

'Jihadists' families should have to contact police'

The Conservative MP Mark Pritchard has said that new laws should be brought in requiring the families of people who travel abroad to take part in jihad to contact police.

"I think we need to look at every measure that would increase our national security", he told Good Morning Britain.

He added that it was "incumbent" on family members to report those who had gone abroad to fight in the interest of protecting their own local communities and the national interest.

Extremist recruiters 'taking advantage of youths'

Many young people who travel to fight with militants in Syria and Iraq are recruited by extremist leaders taking advantage of their personal crises, a spokesman for an anti-extremist group has said.

Haras Rafiq. of the Quilliam Foundation, said that mosques teaching an extremist jihadi form of theology need to consider what it means to be both British and a Muslim.

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