Chemical analysis of samples taken from the tragic April 4 gas attack on civilians in Syria reveals that the nerve agent used definitively points to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime as the culprit, according to Jean-Marc Ayrault, France’s foreign minister.
Ayrault said on Wednesday that France now knows “from sure sources” that “the manufacturing process of the sarin that was sampled is typical of the method developed in Syrian laboratories.” He noted, “This method bears the signature of the regime and that is what allows us to establish its responsibility in this attack.”
The attack left more than 80 people dead, including many children. Assad’s government was immediately blamed for the attack, despite the Syrian president’s claims of innocence. Earlier this week, Assad’s former chemical weapons research chief told reporters that Syria had “at least 2,000 tons of chemical weapons before the war and only declared 1,300.”
According to former Brig. Gen. Zaher al-Sakat, the Syrian government still hides an arsenal of hundreds of tons of chemical weapons.
Russian officials, however, have been backing Assad’s assertions that his regime has never launched a chemical weapons attack during the country’s six-year war.
In response to the attack, President Trump ordered the first U.S. military strike to target the Syrian military since the war began in 2011. Backed by the U.N., the U.S. hit a Syrian airbase believed to have been the origin of the chemical attack with 59 missiles.
Claiming that the U.S. strike on Syria damaged relations between the two countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday that this “pushes the prospect for a wide international front on terror even further away.”
Russia has since increased security measures at its air base in Syria and given air cover to the Syrian government’s offensive on rebel forces, including some backed by the United States and its allies, said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) conducted a fact-finding mission into the April 4 attack on Syrian civilians, of which Director-general Ahmet Uzumcu said, “[F]our OPCW-designated laboratories indicate exposure to sarin or a sarin-like substance.”
Further results are expected to be issued in an upcoming report, but Uzumcu said that “the analytical results already obtained are incontrovertible.”
Other testing conducted by Turkish and British agencies have also come to the conclusion that sarin or a substance similar to the deadly nerve agent was used in the attack.
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