Bashar al-Assad forces carried out gruesome chemical attack in northern Syria on April 4: French intelligence

Namrata Tripathi
Syria chemical attack

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces carried out the deadly sarin nerve gas attack on April 4 in northern Syria, killing 87 people, including women and children, the French intelligence said in a declassified report.

The gruesome chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria's Idlib province gravely injured many people who were left with respiratory problems and faced symptoms like vomiting, fainting and foaming at the mouth. Autopsies conducted on the bodies confirmed the presence of a chemical agent.

Syrian activists claimed that the attack had come from the Assad-led government's airstrikes although the Syrian army denied involvement in the chemical airstrike. Since the incident, Assad has said in two media interviews that the evidence found about the 'attack' was false.

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The French report, which was drawn up by France's military and foreign intelligence service, however, said they reached the conclusion based on the samples they had obtained from the impact strike on the ground and the blood sample from a victim.

"We know, from a certain source, that the process of fabrication of the samples taken is typical of the method developed in Syrian laboratories," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters after presenting the findings to the cabinet, according to Reuters.

"This method is the signature of the regime and it is what enables us to establish the responsibility of the attack. We know because we kept samples from previous attacks that we were able to use for comparison," the minister added.

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Syria's ally Russia had defended the Syrian president by saying that the Assad-led government in the nation has no chemical weapons and that their destruction has been monitored by international observers.

The six-page report, however, said that among the elements that were found in the samples included a chemical called hexamine, which is a hallmark of sarin produced by the Syrian government.

The French intelligence report also added that its findings matched the results of the samples obtained by their officials, including an unexploded grenade from an attack in Saraqib on April 29, 2013. 

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"The French intelligence services consider that only Bashar al-Assad and some of his most influential entourage can give the order to use chemical weapons," Reuters quoted the report as saying.

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