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France claims Syria used chemical weapons

11 May 2017

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said samples taken from the April 4 attack on rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun bear the same chemical signature of Sarin made by the Syrian government, and match samples from a prior chemical attack.

An effort at the United Nations to add pressure on Damascus failed, however, when Assad's close ally Russian Federation vetoed a Security Council resolution on April 12 demanding the Syrian government cooperate with an investigation of the attack.

"Those designated were "highly educated" individuals likely to be able to travel outside of Syria and use the global financial system even if they may not have assets overseas, administration officials said during a conference call with reporters".

"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, according to Reuters.

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The Treasury and State departments also targeted 18 senior Assad regime officials and five branches of the Syrian military in January after a United Nations inquiry concluded that the government was responsible for three chlorine gas attacks against civilians in 2014 and 2015.

A French diplomat said the analysis was carried out on unexploded ordnance found at Khan Sheikhun, reported AFP.

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 USA missile strike.

Earlier this month, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said "incontrovertible" test results by its team of experts probing the incident had shown sarin gas or a similar substance was used in Khan Sheikhoun.

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Although the Syrian government promotes the SSRC as a civilian research centre, United States officials said that "its activities focus substantively on the development of biological and chemical weapons".

Since then, the government has repeatedly been found to use bombs laden with chlorine, and worldwide inspectors have discovered traces of sarin and other chemical weapons in some locations.

President Assad, denying the western accusations, said his forces had already given up its chemical arsenal and claimed the reports of the deaths may have been faked to justify the US's retaliatory airstrikes in the country.

One official said the sanctions will primarily target weapons manufacturers believed to aid Assad's use of chemical weapons.

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Kremlin spokesman Dimitrije Peskov told reporters Wednesday that "the only way to restore the truth about what happened in Idlib is an impartial worldwide investigation". The Trump administration fired cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase in retaliation for the attack and issued sanctions on 271 people linked to the Syrian agency said to be responsible for producing non-conventional weapons.

France claims Syria used chemical weapons