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Syria denies carrying out gas attack that killed dozens

A Syrian prays on July 12, 2017 at a cemetery in Khan Sheikhun where the UN says a Syrian government sarin gas attack killed dozens of people, a claim Damascus denies
A Syrian prays on July 12, 2017 at a cemetery in Khan Sheikhun where the UN says a Syrian government sarin gas attack killed dozens of people, a claim Damascus denies AFP
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Damascus (AFP)

Syria on Friday denied UN accusations that it was behind a sarin gas attack in April, saying the government does not use chemical weapons against its people.

On Wednesday, United Nations war crimes investigators said they had evidence Syrian government forces were behind a chemical attack using sarin gas on Khan Sheikhun in April that killed dozens.

"All evidence available leads the commission to conclude that there are reasonable grounds to believe Syrian forces dropped an aerial bomb dispersing sarin in Khan Sheikhun," a report by the UN Commission of Inquiry said.

In a letter to UN headquarters in Geneva, quoted by the official SANA news agency, the Damascus government denied the claim and said: "Syria has not and will not use toxic gases against its people because it does not have them."

Syria also accused the commission of "politicising" its work.

At least 87 people including more than 30 children died in the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikhun, a town in the opposition-held province of Idlib, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

The UN report gave a death toll of at least 83, a third of them children, and said nearly 300 were wounded in the attack.

Syria's government has constantly denied involvement in chemical attacks, saying it no longer possesses chemical weapons after a 2013 agreement under which it pledged to surrender them.

A fact-finding mission by the UN's chemical watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, concluded earlier this year that sarin was used in the Khan Sheikhun attack, but did not assign blame.

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