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France: Action needed now use of sarin gas confirmed in Syria

Civilians receive treatment after Assad Regime forces carried out a chemical attack in Idlib, Syria on 4 April 2017 [Bahjat Najar/Anadolu Agency]
Civilians receive treatment after Assad Regime forces carried out a chemical attack in Idlib, Syria on 4 April 2017 [Bahjat Najar/Anadolu Agency]

France said today that a report by the world's chemical weapons watchdog that nerve agent sarin was used in an April attack in Syria was "unequivocal" and that the organisation's members should act firmly on its findings.

After interviewing witnesses and examining samples, a fact- finding mission (FFM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concluded that "a large number of people, some of whom died, were exposed to sarin or a sarin-like substance."

"The conclusions of this report are indisputable," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The OPCW and its members must assume their responsibilities and condemn, in the strongest terms, this intolerable violation of the non-proliferation regime.

The attack on 4 April, when dozens of people were killed in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in northern Idlib province, was the most deadly in Syria's civil war in more than three years.

Read: Assad regime continues to produce chemical weapons

Western intelligence agencies have accused the government of Bashar al-Assad of carrying out the attack. Syrian officials have repeatedly denied using banned toxins in the conflict.

Russia, Assad's key backer, said on Friday the OPCW's findings were based on doubtful evidence.

The Khan Sheikhoun attack prompted a US missile strike against a Syrian air base which Washington said was used to launch the strike. France has said any new attacks would be a "red line" that could see unilateral French airstrikes.

"Those who carried out the Khan Sheikhoun atrocities and other chemical weapons attacks must face justice for the crimes," the ministry said.

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