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AP
In this image provided by the Department of Energy, chemist Brian Dockendorff works on a mass spectrometer at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. Three simple numbers will prove if sarin was used to gas Syrians last month: 99-125-81. (AP Photo/Carlos Fraga)

Labs seeking sarin chemical signature: 99-125-81

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three simple numbers will prove whether sarin was used to gas Syrians last month: 99-125-81.

Chemists this week around Europe are feeding samples of bodily tissue and dirt collected after chemical attacks in Syria into sophisticated machines. They are waiting for those three numbers to read out in a bar graph on a computer screen. Carlos Fraga, a chemist who specializes in nerve agent forensics at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., calls those numbers sarin's fingerprint.

Fraga says once chemists see those digits, they know they've got sarin. But he and other experts say it will probably take about two weeks for scientists to retest, confirm and write up reports.

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