Sarin gas used in Syria, claims France

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 00:12

Zee Media Bureau

Paris: France on Tuesday said that it has evidence to show sarin gas was used in Syria. France`s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said as per samples, taken from Syria and tested in France, sarin gas was used there several times.

Fabius said the tests conducted by a French lab "prove the presence of sarin in the samples in our possession." He said France "now is certain that sarin gas was used in Syria multiple times and in a localized way."

"It would be unacceptable that those guilty of these crimes benefit from impunity," Fabius added.

Earlier Tuesday, a UN report on Syria said there are "reasonable grounds" to believe that limited quantities of toxic chemicals have been used as weapons in at least four attacks in Syria`s civil war, but that more evidence is needed to determine the precise chemical agents used or who used them.

The UN Commission of Inquiry said conclusive findings can be reached only after testing samples taken directly from victims or the site of the alleged attacks. It called on Damascus to allow a team of experts into the country, saying lack of access continues to hamper the commission`s ability to fulfill its mandate.

President Barack Obama had previously declared the use of chemical weapons his "red line" for forceful US intervention in Syria. He has since come under pressure to take action amid mounting allegations that President Bashar Assad`s regime has crossed that line.

The UN report appeared to strengthen the Obama administration`s argument that that the existing evidence is insufficient.

The commission`s report to the Human Rights Council on violations in Syria`s conflict accused both sides of committing war crimes. In an apparent message to European countries considering arming Syrian rebels, the report warned that the transfer of arms would heighten the risk of violations, leading to more civilian deaths and injuries.

"War crimes and crimes against humanity have become a daily reality in Syria where the harrowing accounts of victims have seared themselves on our conscience," the report said. "There is a human cost to the increased availability of weapons," it added.

The commission said it relied for the report on first-hand accounts to corroborate incidents, and carried out 430 interviews in the region and from Geneva, including via Skype and over the telephone, with victims and witnesses inside the country.

It also collected photographs, video recordings, satellite imagery and medical records. Reports from governments and non-government sources, academic analyses, and UN reports, including from human rights bodies and humanitarian organizations, also formed part of the investigation.

UN-Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appointed a UN team to investigate alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria after the government in Damascus asked him to investigate a purported attack by rebels on March 19 on Khan al-Assal village near the northern city of Aleppo. But the Syrian government insists that a probe be limited to that incident.

Syrian soldiers were reportedly killed and injured in the incident, which the rebels blame on government forces. Opposition activists have claimed there have been more than six instances when regime forces used chemical weapons.

(With Agency inputs)



First Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 00:12

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