Thu, Apr 27, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Al-Assad behind sarin attack: French intelligence report

Reuters, PARIS

French intelligence services have concluded that on April 4 forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out a sarin nerve gas attack in northern Syria and that al-Assad or his closest entourage ordered the strike, a declassified report showed.

The attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed scores of people and prompted the US to launch a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base in response, its first direct assault on the al-Assad government in the conflict.

The six-page document — drawn up by French military and foreign intelligence services said it was able to reach its conclusion based on samples they had obtained from the impact strike on the ground and a blood sample from a victim.

Among the elements found in the samples were hexamine, a hallmark of sarin produced by the Syrian government.

“The French intelligence services consider that only Bashar al-Assad and some of his most influential entourage can give the order to use chemical weapons,” the report said.

It added that militant groups in the area did not have the capacity to develop and launch such an attack, and that the Islamic State group was not in the region.

Al-Assad’s claim on April 13 that the attack was fabricated, was “not credible” given the mass casualties in a short space of time arriving in Syrian and Turkish hospitals, as well as the sheer quantity of online activity showing people with neurotoxic symptoms, the report said.

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