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Middle east

France says tests leave 'no doubt' Syria used sarin gas

© AFP

Video by Philip CROWTHER

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-06-05

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says there is “no doubt” that Syria’s government has used chemical weapons after tests confirm traces of the deadly nerve agent sarin on samples taken from the country.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday his government had “no doubt” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government had used chemical weapons, soon after announcing that tests carried out on samples taken from the country had confirmed traces of the deadly nerve agent sarin.

“There is no doubt that it’s the regime and its accomplices” that are responsible for the use of the gas, Fabius announced on France 2 television.

There is ‘no doubt’ sarin was used in Syria, Fabius says

“All options are on the table,” he added. “That means either we decide not to react or we decide to react including by armed actions targetting the place where the gas is stored.”

Fabius’s comments came shortly after his ministry issued a statement claiming that tests on chemical samples from Syria made it "certain" sarin gas had been used, but without specifying where or by whom.

UN investigators also said on Tuesday they had “reasonable grounds” to believe that limited amounts of chemical weapons had been used in the conflict in Syria, where war crimes have become a “daily reality”.

Mutual accusations

France has been testing samples of suspected chemical weapon elements for several weeks, including some smuggled out by reporters from French daily Le Monde.

The results of the latest tests have been handed to the Swedish head of a UN chemical weapons investigation team, Ake Sellstrom, Fabius said.

A French diplomatic source said the samples had come from Jobar, just inside central Damascus, and Saraqib, near the northern city of Idlib.

Both sides in the conflict, now in its third year, have accused the other of using chemical weapons. President Bashar al-Assad’s government has denied using chemical weapons and has in turn accused rebels of deploying them in the two-year civil war that the UN says has killed over 80,000 people.

UN investigators have been ready for weeks, but diplomatic wrangling and safety concerns have delayed their entry into Syria.

Syria, which is not a member of the anti-chemical weapons convention, is believed to have one of the world’s last remaining stockpiles of undeclared chemical arms.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-06-04

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