French intelligence report says Assad forces behind April 4 sarin attack
02:08, Apr 27, 2017
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These government employees are "highly educated" chemical specialists who are likely to be able to travel outside of Syria and use the global financial system, Trump Administration officials said.
The discovery of sarin has been corroborated through independent tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, as well as British and Turkish forensic scientists.
Lavrov says claims that the experts were warned by a United Nations body against traveling there because it's unsafe are "lies", adding that Moscow went back to the United Nations and found out that there was no such warning.
Lavrov also said the Syrian government had offered security assurances for any experts who would like to visit.
The April 4 attack was the deadliest to involve chemical weapons in Syria since Assad's forces dropped sarin on a cluster of rebel-held Damascus neighbourhoods in 2013, killing more than 1,000 people and pushing the Obama administration to the brink of military action.
The chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed scores of people, according to a war monitor, Syrian opposition groups and Western countries.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are the U.S.'s main partner in the battle against the Islamic State group in northern Syria.
The Kremlin says a new French government report that blames the Syrian government for a deadly chemical attack earlier this month is not enough to prove who was behind it.
The report, which lists some 140 suspected chemical attacks in Syria since 2012, also said intelligence services were aware of a Syrian government Sukhoi 22 warplane that had struck six times on Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 and that samples taken from the ground were consistent with an airborne projectile that had munitions loaded with sarin.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that Russian Federation would not change its position regarding the Khan Sheikhoun attack in light of the French assessment. "We regret that OPCW restrains so far from such an investigation", spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked about the French report.
The OPCW had overseen the supposed dismantling of the Syrian chemical weapons programme, a signature achievement by the previous United States administration under Barack Obama.
The OPCW is responsible for implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention, which entered into force on April 29, 1997, and has 192 member states, including Syria.
The French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that samples taken from the attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun matched those from a previous incident.
"We know, from a certain source, that the process of fabrication of the samples taken is typical of the method developed in Syrian laboratories", Ayrault said, according to Reuters.
"This method bears the signature of the regime and that is what allows us to establish its responsibility in this attack", he added, saying that France is working to bring those behind the "criminal" atrocities to worldwide justice.
Earlier Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the USA strike damaged the prospects of a political settlement for the war-torn country.
Worldwide chemical weapons inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said last week they had found "incontrovertible" evidence that Sarin, or a similar substance, was used in the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikhoun, but did not apportion responsibility.
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