France says analysis shows Syrian regime behind sarin attack

Russia, Assad's chief backer, promptly denounced the French report on Wednesday, saying the samples and the fact the nerve agent was used are not enough to prove who was behind it.

Moscow once again underlined that a national investigation will never be as reliable as an worldwide inquiry, and only a mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) can establish the truth regarding the alleged use of chemical weapons.

Earlier Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the US airstrike at the Syrian military base damages the prospects of a political settlement for the war-torn country.

Earlier, the United Kingdom and France claimed that their experts have "received" samples from the site of the incident, which they passed on to OPCW labs who then identified the chemical agent used in the attack as sarin gas.

"The use of sarin is without question", France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters as he presented the results of the French investigation.

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, backed by his ally Russian Federation, has strongly denied allegations that his forces used chemical weapons against the town, describing it as a "100 percent fabrication".

Assad's claim to AFP news agency on April 13 that the attack was fabricated, was "not credible" given the mass flows of casualties in a short space of time arriving in Syrian and Turkish hospitals as well as the sheer quantity of online activity showing people with neurotoxic symptoms, the French report said.

"This method bears the signature of the regime and that is what allows us to establish its responsibility in this attack", he added, saying France was working to bring those behind the "criminal" atrocities to worldwide justice.

French foreign minister says chemical analysis of samples from Khan Sheikhoun "bears signature" of Syria government.

While the Nobel Peace Prize-winning global chemical weapons watchdog is widely seen as a disarmament success story, Wednesday's ceremony at the historic Knights Hall in The Hague comes against a backdrop of repeated uses in recent years of chemicals in Syria's grinding civil war.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which examines chemical attacks but does not place blame, said on April 19 that samples from victims showed that sarin or a similar substance was used. Syria has strongly denied the accusations.

Lavrov told a security conference in Moscow that the USA response "pushes the prospect for a wide global front on terror even further away".

In other developments, the US -backed Syrian Kurdish forces asked for the USA -led coalition to provide air cover over northern Syria, to protect them from Turkish and Syrian government air raids.

A video emerged on the internet on Wednesday purporting to show an American officer inspecting the site, drawing large crowds who followed him around. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Turkey considers the YPG an extension of an insurgency within its own borders.

The Kremlin spokesman's comments came on the same day as visiting Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said there was no political future for the Syrian president. And its unsafe, painstaking work to implement the April 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention won it the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.

  • Leroy Wright