Paris releases video ‘proof’ of Syria gas attack

In a bid to convince the public of the need to strike against the Syrian regime, Paris has released shocking video footage online, as part of its dossier of ‘proof’ that Bashar al-Assad’s forces were behind a recent deadly chemical attack in Damascus.

Paris releases video 'proof' of Syria gas attack
An image from a video uploaded onto the Ministry of Defence website

Just as French Prime Minister Jean Marc-Ayrault was to trying to convince senior lawmakers from all political parties of the merits of an intervention in Syria, the government began the job of trying to sway the public by releasing harrowing video evidence of last month’s deadly chemical attack in Damascus.

In all, six videos were uploaded late on Monday night onto the Ministry of Defence’s website.

The French government claims the videos have been “authenticated” by French intelligence services, and come with a warning that they contain images which may shock viewers.

The six videos were garnered from a number of sources in Syria including doctors, civilians and members of rebel forces fighting against Bashar al-Assad.

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The images show the bodies of children, women and men lined up on a floor. Excerpts also show a child having difficulty breathing and another who is suffering from “uncontrolled muscle movements”.

The Ministry of Defense states the videos were taken on the morning of August 21st, the day a rebel-dominated suburb of Damascus was hit by a massive rocket attack.

The images show victims suffering various “symptoms” without being wounded – proof, according to France, that “chemical weapons were used against the civilian population”.

(The front page of the Ministry of Defense's website is dedicated to Syria attacks)

The videos form part of a dossier of evidence put together by French intelligence services that was declassified on Monday, as part of the Socialist government’s bid to persuade MPs and the public that strikes against the Syrian regime are necessary.

Hollande has vowed to "punish" Assad but has come under pressure not to attack before getting the green light from the French parliament.

On Monday, Assad himself warned France there would be "repercussions" if its forces intervened in Syria.

The report, made public after Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met with lawmakers, said the "Syrian regime launched an attack on some suburbs of Damascus held by units of the opposition, combining conventional means with the massive use of chemical agents."

It said that based on video reports, French intelligence had counted at least 281 dead but that reports of up to 1,500 killed were consistent with such heavy use of chemical weapons.

"The attack on August 21st could only have been ordered and carried out by the regime," the report said.

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"We believe the Syrian opposition does not have the capacity to carry out an operation of such magnitude with chemical agents," it said.

The report said Syria "had one of the biggest operational stocks of chemical weapons," including an arsenal of more than 1,000 tonnes, comprising sarin and mustard gas, and more powerful neurotoxic agents.

If you would like to view the six videos released by France's Ministry of Defence, please note that they contain images some readers might find disturbing. 

CLICK HERE for a link to the videos in question.

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Assad blasts France for supporting ‘terrorists’

In an interview with French television Syria's leader Bashar al-Assad has accused France of supporting the "terrorists" who oppose his regime. Last week Assad warned that the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris was just the tip of the iceberg.

Assad blasts France for supporting 'terrorists'
Bashar al-Assad gives a wid-ranging interview to France 2 TV channel this week. Photo: France 2

Assad, told France 2 TV channel that Paris was supporting "terrorists"  in his country and scolded President François Hollande for his policy towards the crisis in Syria.

In August last year Hollande admitted that France had been supplying weapons to Syrian rebel groups "for months".

"We cannot leave the only Syrians who are preparing a democracy … without weapons," Hollande said at the time.

But Assad said France had become "a kind of satellite for American foreign policy in the region. [France] is not independent, it has no weight and no credibility," he said.

Assad criticized the west aiding the rebels claimed it has resulted in "terrorists infiltrating the country".

"They have begun to attack civilians and destroy properties. Our role is to defend our society," he said.

In the wide-ranging interview the Syrian leader also denied being behind alleged chemical attacks in northwestern Idlib province last month, and accused the United States of overseeing the creation of the Islamic State group.

"The IS was created in Iraq in 2006 under the supervision of the Americans. The IS came from Iraq to Syria because chaos is contagious," he said, slamming France and other western nations for supporting the jihadists by considering them as the moderate opposition.

"Is it democratic to send weapons to terrorists and to support them? So I have the right to support the terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo for example?"

In an interview with a Swedish newspaper last week, Assad had warned that the terrorist attacks in Paris are just "the tip of the iceberg" when it comes to terrorism in Europe.

"As long as the backyard of Europe, especially the Mediterranean and Northern Africa, is in chaos and full of terrorists, Europe cannot be safe," Assad told Swedish newspaper Expressen.

"Everything that happened in Europe, and I mean terrorist attacks, we warned from the very beginning of the crisis," he said.

"We’ve had experience with those kind of terrorists for 50 years now. They don’t listen, so what happened was warned of before, and what we saw in France, in Charlie Hebdo, the suicide attempts in Copenhagen, in London, in Spain ten years ago, this is only the tip of the iceberg; terrorism is a huge mountain," he added.

The French government has strictly ruled out any talks with Assad and earlier this year Hollande accused a group of French MPs of a "moral failing" after they travelled to Syria to meet the President Bashar al-Assad, whom PM Manuel Valls described as a "butcher"

A cross-party group of four French lawmakers made an unofficial trip to the Syrian capital Damascus on Wednesday and held talks with senior ministers.
Three of the MPs — not including one from the ruling Socialist party — then met with the Syrian leader.
Hollande condemned the talks, saying France cannot have a dialogue with a "dictator who has bombed his own people and who has used chemical weapons to destroy human lives, Syrian lives — the lives of children, women".