France says analysis shows Syrian regime behind sarin attack

Nick Mcbride
April 28, 2017

The chemicals found there essentially match the biological fingerprint of the Assad government's sarin manufacturing process, as the same chemicals were found in samples collected from a 2013 attack in the town of Saraqeb in Idlib, which was also linked to the regime. The findings came in a six-page report published Wednesday.

Assad has denied that his forces used chemical weapons and claimed that evidence of a poison-gas attack is fabricated.

"We know, from a certain source, that the process of fabrication of the samples taken is typical of the method developed in Syrian laboratories", Ayrault said. "This (production) method bears the regime's hallmarks and allows us to determine its responsibility for this attack", he said.

Hundreds of people suffered symptoms consistent with reaction to a nerve agent after what the opposition and the U.S. say was a Syrian Air Force attack on Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April.

Ayrault said French intelligence showed that only Syrian government forces could be behind such an attack - by a bomber taking off from the Shayrat air base, which was later targeted in a retaliatory us missile strike. "Only the regime has such air assets", said Ayrault.

France's presidential office said the country's intelligence services presented evidence showing the Syrian government "still holds chemical warfare agents, in violation of the commitments to eliminate them that it took in 2013".

"The Syrian Arab Republic denounces this misleading campaign, which proves France's full partnership in the aggression against Syria", the ministry said.

Syria's ally Russian Federation had defended the Syrian president by saying that the Assad-led government in the nation has no chemical weapons and that their destruction has been monitored by global observers.

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"With regard to Assad's support, Russia's and President [Vladimir] Putin's position did not change, it is consistent and well-known", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

A Syrian man receives treatment at a small hospital in the town of Maaret al-Noman following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a nearby rebel-held town in Syria's northwestern Idlib province, on 4 April 2017.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on April 19 that sarin or a similar banned toxin was used in the Khan Shaykhun attack, but it is not mandated to assign blame.

"France assesses that major doubts remain as to the accuracy, exhaustiveness and sincerity of the decommissioning of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal", the 6-pg report states.

Lavrov told a security conference in Moscow that the USA response "pushes the prospect for a wide worldwide front on terror even further away".

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russian Federation had to boost security measures at its air base in Syria after the USA strike at the Syrian base. My reaction at the time was mostly based on Russia's previous behavior, i.e. lying about an airstrike on a relief convoy past year, lying about its involvement in Ukraine, etc. The report said the analysis was carried out by comparing "environmental samples" found at Khan Sheikhun with unexploded ordnance found at the site of the 2013 attack.

Information for this article was contributed by Mike Corder and Philip Issa of The Associated Press.

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