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A UK Defence Minister has claimed that he would be “surprised” if the UK had provided military training for senior military officers from president Assad's Syrian army. This despite the fact that written parliamentary answers had confirmed that it was, in fact, the case.

Dr Andrew Murrison, Tory MP for South West Wiltshire and Parliamentary Under Secretary State for International Security Strategy, made the gaff in answer to a question posed by Westminster SNP leader Angus Robertson during defence questions in the house of Commons.

Dr Murrison appeared unaware that the MoD have actively and regularly trained members of the Syrian army between 2001 and 2009.

Commenting Angus Robertson said:

“It beggars belief that the UK provided regular training for senior Assad regime military personnel. What makes it even worse is that the Defence Minister was unaware of it.

“This is just another example in a long list of embarrassing facts about the UK's close relationship with the terrible regime in Damascus.”

Meanwhile, London Mayor Boris Johnson has joined calls for MPs to vote again on action in Syria following Washington's announcement that they had seen blood and hair samples proving that Sarin gas had been used on civilians.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg dismissed the proposal saying:

“We are not going to keep asking the same question of Parliamentary again and again.”

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