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French report claims Syria staged three chemical attacks

Photo: AFP

French authorities declassified an intelligence report on Monday which claims that the Bashar al-Assad regime has staged at least three chemical attacks in Syria since April, including an August 21 attack that killed hundreds.

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The French government published a nine-page synopsis on Monday about Syria’s chemical weapons programme that cites at least three chemical attacks between April and August.

The report also alleged that nobody but the Bashar al-Assad regime could have carried out the August 21 chemical attack outside Damascus, which it said at least 281 deaths could be attributed to. The analysis based that count in part from dozens of videos culled by French intelligence services.

The figure was markedly lower than that provided by Washington, which spoke of at least 1,400 deaths.

The French report said “massive use of chemical agents” were involved in the attack and that the regime could carry out other strikes of a similar nature in the future.

Assad's government has denied responsibility and warned of a "regional war" if Western powers launch a military intervention.

President François Hollande has backed a call from President Barack Obama for a military strike against the Syrian government in retaliation for the attack.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault hosted lawmakers, his defence and foreign ministers, and intelligence and security officials on Monday to discuss Syria.

He made a brief announcement after the meeting to say that France was “determined” to punish the Syrian regime for the attack, and that a parliamentary debate Wednesday on the issue would not be followed by a vote. The French constitution doesn’t require such a vote for Hollande to be able to authorise military action.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

 

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