• France's news in English

France confirms Assad used sarin gas in Syria

AFP/The Local · 5 Jun 2013, 08:53

Published: 05 Jun 2013 08:53 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

France said on Tuesday it had proof President Bashar al-Assad's regime has used the deadly nerve agent sarin gas in Syria's civil war, adding that "all options," including armed intervention, are on the table.

Washington said it needed more evidence before concluding that sarin has been used.

Earlier, a UN report said there were "reasonable grounds" to believe both sides in Syria had used chemical weapons.

But French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France 2 television: "We have no doubt that the gas is being used. The conclusion of the laboratory is clear: there is sarin gas."

Experts had analysed samples brought back from Syria, he said.

Earlier, his ministry released a statement from Fabius in which he said "France is now certain that sarin gas has been used in Syria several times and in a localized fashion".

Although the statement did not say who had used the gas, it added: "It would be unacceptable that those guilty of these crimes could benefit from impunity."

Later, in his televised remarks, Fabius went further, saying that in at least one case, there was "no doubt that it was the regime and its accomplices".

A diplomatic source said this particular case was an April 29th helicopter attack by regime forces on Saraqeb, in the northwest province of Idlib.

"A line has been indisputably breached," said Fabius.

"We will hold talks with our partners on what we must do and all options are on the table," he said, to decide "whether to react, including in an armed manner".

"But we are not there yet," Fabius added, referring to armed intervention.

"We must react, but at the same time we must not block an eventual peace conference."

Officials are heading to Geneva for a preparatory meeting on the US- and Russia-backed peace conference on Syria.

Officials hope to hammer out terms to get President Bashar al-Assad's camp and the rebels to negotiate directly for the first time.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Washington needed to know more before declaring that sarin gas had been used in Syria.

Story continues below…

"We need to expand the evidence we have ... before we make any decision," Carney said, alluding to President Barack Obama's stated position that use of the deadly nerve agent would be a "game-changer" for Washington.

French diplomats said the samples tested by the French laboratory had come from two locations -- Jobar, a suburb of Damascus, and Saraqeb.

The samples from near Damascus were brought back to France by two journalists with the French daily Le Monde. They reported the use of chemical weapons in the area in mid-April.

There were no details on how France obtained the other sample.

Fabius said he had sent their results to the United Nations, which is also investigating the issue.

AFP/The Local (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Is Marks & Spencer to close Champs-Elysées store?
Photo: AFP

Is it goodbye to crumpets, jam, and English biscuits?

After Calais, France faces growing migrant crisis in Paris
Photo: AFP

While all the focus has been on the closure of the Jungle in Calais, France must deal with the thousands of migrants sleeping rough in Paris. And their numbers are growing.

Restaurant boss suspected of kidnapping Cannes millionaire
The Nice residence of the president of Cannes' Grand Hotel, Jacqueline Veyrac. Photo: AFP

A restaurant owner 'harbouring a grudge', apparently.

Le Thought du Jour
Vive le pont - The best thing about French public holidays
Photo: AFP

The UK might have guaranteed public holidays, but France has "les ponts".

What's on in France: Top things to do in November
Don't miss the chocolate fashion show in Lyon. Photo: Salon du chocolat

The autumn is in full swing in France, and there's plenty to do.

What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
How speaking French can really mess up your English
The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
jobs available