Sarin was used in deadly Syria attack, chemical weapons watchdog confirms

Senior military officials at the Pentagon say the Syrian airbase was targeted because of its involvement in the chemical attack involving sarin gas, which killed over 70 civilians including women and children in northern Syria on April 4.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on April 5 that the airstrike by the Syrian air force had hit a terrorist warehouse that stored chemical weapons slated for delivery to Iraq, and called on the UN Security Council to launch a proper investigation into the incident.

He said an analysis of the attack was under way, adding: "In a few days, I will be able to provide proof".

Also on Wednesday, Israeli defense officials said Assad still has up to 3 tons of chemical weapons.

In response to the April 4 attack, the U.S. fired 59 missiles at a Syrian air base it said was the launching pad for the attack.

The move places the Syrian aircraft in close proximity to Russia's Khmeimim Air Base - where the majority of Russian air forces helping ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime are based - in Latakia Governorate, Syria.

The missile strike was the first direct United States military action against Assad's forces since the start of Syria's civil war six years ago and precipitated a downward spiral in ties between Washington and Moscow.

USA forces had given Moscow a heads up shortly before firing off 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Shayrat, where Russian personnel and equipment are based under Moscow's ongoing military intervention to prop up Assad.

Assad continues to deny his forces were behind the gas attack. This amounted to 1,300 tons of agent and their precursors, the materials needed to weaponize the chemicals.

Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons arsenal to avert US strikes in September 2013, following a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs in August that year that killed hundreds of people and sparked worldwide outrage.

Meanwhile, Dan Kaszeta, a UK-based chemical weapons expert, told the AP that the Israeli estimate of Assad's chemical weapons cache appeared to be conservative, yet it was enough to be highly lethal.

The assessment was confirmed by two other defense officials. Its investigations and conclusions provide vital independent, third-party evidence on violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention, for the worldwide community to decide upon action. "Syria has been accused without any proof of being responsible for using chemical weapons", Russian ambassador Alexander Shulgin told AFP. After the meeting, USA secretary of state Rex Tillerson stated the USA strikes were a matter of national security: "We do not want the regime's uncontrolled stockpile of chemical weapons to fall into the hands of ISIS, or other terrorist groups and want to attack the United States and our allies". But doubts began to emerge soon afterward that not all such armaments or production facilities were declared and destroyed.

  • Leroy Wright