SHARE
COPY LINK

WEAPONS

France confirms Assad used sarin gas in Syria

France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius has claimed he has "no doubt" sarin gas was used by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, after samples were brought back to France by two journalists. "All options are on the table," said Fabius.

France confirms Assad used sarin gas in Syria

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.

"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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

SYRIA

French group to open two hotels in Damascus

France's Louvre Hotels Group has signed an agreement to open two hotels under its own name in Damascus, the first with a western hotel operator since Syria's brutal civil war began in 2011.

French group to open two hotels in Damascus
Louvre owns the Golden Tulip five-star brand. Photo: Louvre Hotels Group
The confirmation of the two hotels opening, after recent media reports, came a day after the UN announced an internal investigation into the bombing of hospitals in Syria, and as at least six civilians were killed by the Syrian regime and Russian fire in northwestern Idlib province in the past days, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
 
The region of around three million people, many of them displaced by fighting in other areas, is one of the last holdouts of opposition fighting against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
   
The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance led by Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate controls most of Idlib as well as parts of neighbouring Aleppo and Latakia provinces.
   
The hotels “will open soon under the brand name of Louvres Hotels Group,” the company, which is owned by China's Jin
Jiang, said in a statement.
 
Louvre Hotels Group said the deal was signed between Syria's Nazha Investment Group and “a partner with whom Louvre Hotels cooperates in the Middle East”.
   
The exact number of people killed in Syria's war is unknown but hundreds of thousands have died.
   
Several dozen medical facilities with links to the UN have been damaged or destroyed by bombs this year. Russian has denied deliberately targeting civilian installations.
   
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday said an internal inquiry would look into the bombing of hospitals in Syria which had previously flagged their coordinates to avoid air strikes.
   
“The deal is strictly in line with international law and all international directives regarding Syria,” the French company statement said.
   
According to the website, The Syria Report, it is the first agreement with a western hotel operator since 2011, when the devastating conflict began. Louvre Hotels Group was taken over by China's Jin Jiang in 2015 and it operates more than 1,500 hotels in 54 countries.
SHOW COMMENTS