France Intel Confirms Assad Used Sarin Gas in Syria Chemical Attack

Samples obtained by French intelligence show that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad 'undoubtedly' used sarin nerve gas in April 4 attack

A Syrian child receives treatment following a toxic gas attack, April 4, 2017.
AFP PHOTO / Mohamed al-Bakour

Samples obtained by French intelligence show that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "undoubtedly" used sarin nerve gas in an April 4 attack in northern Syria, France's foreign minister said on Wednesday, citing a declassified report. 

The attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed scores of people and prompted the United States to launch a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base in response, its first direct assault on the Assad government in the conflict. 

"We know, from a certain source, that the process of fabrication of the samples taken is typical of the method developed in Syrian laboratories," Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters.

"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." 

Sources in Israel earlier this month concurred with the assesment that the attack in which at least 100 civilians were killed and injured hundreds more, was approved by the highest levels of the Syrian regime. According to one senior Israeli officer, it was "difficult to believe" that President Bashar Assad did not know about the chemical attack on Syrian civilians earlier this month.

He added that Israeli intelligence held proof that the attack was carried out by senior officers in the Syrian army.

Samples taken from the site of a deadly toxic gas attack in Syria and analyzed by British scientists earlier this month also tested positive for sarin or a sarin-like substance.

According to Britain's UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, "The United Kingdom shares the assessment that it is highly likely that the regime was responsible for a sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April," Rycroft said.