Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo help turn the tide?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza, From Bad to Worse? With no Ceasefire in Sight, Conflict Spillover Felt Elsewhere (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza, From Bad to Worse? With no Ceasefire in Sight, Conflict Spillover Felt Elsewhere

Read more

EUROPE NOW

Best of Europe Now (Part 1)

Read more

ENCORE!

Clapton pays hommage to 'Cocaine' songwriter J.J. Cale

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Alexander Stubb, Prime Minister of Finland

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users pay tribute to MH17 victims

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Lieutenant General David Morrison, Australia's Army Chief

Read more

  • Israeli soldier missing in Gaza, says media reports

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels release bodies, black boxes from flight MH17

    Read more

  • An ‘explosion of violence’: French press reacts to Gaza protests

    Read more

  • US, UK oppose France’s warship sale to Russia

    Read more

  • Notorious ‘VIP’ prison in Paris closed for renovations

    Read more

  • Christians in Iraq's Mosul face execution or exodus

    Read more

  • Scores killed as Libyan militias fight over airport

    Read more

  • Ukraine football players refuse to return home after friendly in France

    Read more

  • China steps up communist education to guard against ‘moral decline’

    Read more

  • France slams ‘anti-Semitic’ violence at pro-Palestinian rally

    Read more

  • French rugby stars attacked with machetes and swords

    Read more

  • Hollande announces new military operation in West Africa

    Read more

  • Prince George picture released to mark first birthday

    Read more

  • Kristoff wins Tour’s flat Stage 15

    Read more

Middle east

‘Little doubt’ Assad is to blame for sarin attack

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-17

A report by UN investigators appears to confirm that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind an August 21 chemical weapons attack in a suburb of Damascus, the US, France and Britain said Monday.

France, the US and Britain said Monday that a UN report on chemical weapon use in Syria shows, with “little doubt”, that President Bashar al-Assad was behind a sarin gas attack last month that killed hundreds of civilians.

The UN inspectors’ report, made public Monday, said that there is “clear and convincing evidence” that chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale during the attack in a suburb of Damascus on August 21.

“The environmental, chemical and medical samples we have collected provide clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used ... in the Ghouta area of Damascus,” it said.

“The conclusion is that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic ... against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale.”

The Syrian rebels and their Western and Arab supporters blame Assad’s regime for the attack in the rebel-controlled area of Ghouta. The Assad regime insists that the attack was carried out by rebels – a view that has been supported by Russia.

The UN team was investigating only whether chemical weapons were used in a deadly assault on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta. The report does not say who launched the attack, although the British and French envoys said technical details in it pointed to government culpability.

‘Only the regime could have carried out this large-scale attack’

“When you look at the findings carefully, the quantities of toxic gas used, the complexity of the mixes, the nature, and the trajectory of the [gas] carriers, it leaves absolutely no doubt as to the origin of the attack,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told RTL radio.

“It reinforces the position of those that have said the regime is guilty.”

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said “only the regime could have carried out this large-scale attack”, adding that the quality of the sarin was higher than that used by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein against Iran and there is no evidence the rebels possess the nerve agent.

However, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, though calling the investigators’ conclusion “deeply disturbing”, stressed that it was too early to jump to conclusions.
“Allegations that in fact it was the opposition who used chemical weapons cannot be simply shrugged off,” he said. “Those allegations also need to be very seriously investigated.”

Syria chemical weapons plan ‘to begin in a matter of days’

The alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad led to threats of military strikes against his regime by the US and others. But a diplomatic breakthrough came last week in the form of a US-Russian plan that will see Syria hand over its chemical weapons arsenal to the international community.

Following the publication of Monday’s report, the watchdog tasked with implementing the plan said the programme to remove Assad’s chemical weapons should begin the "in a matter of days”.

The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement that its experts "are already at work preparing a roadmap that anticipates the various challenges involved in verifying Syria's declared stockpiles".

The US-Russian plan requires Assad to provide a complete inventory of its chemical weapons, production facilities, and "related materials" to the OPCW "on an expeditious basis".
 

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-09-17

  • SYRIA

    UN report: 'clear evidence' sarin gas used in Syria

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Diplomatic push for ‘strong’ UN resolution on Syria

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Ban to present UN report on Syria chemical weapons

    Read more

COMMENT(S)