France ‘hiding truth’ on suspected chemical attack: Damascus

Photo by Nigel Treblin/Getty Images

Syria on Thursday accused France of concealing the real identity of those behind a deadly suspected chemical attack, a day after Paris said it had proof the Damascus regime was responsible.

Western leaders have accused President Bashar al-Assad’s regime of carrying out an April 4 sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun that was reported to have killed 88 people, including 31 children.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Wednesday laid out what he described as scientific proof the regime was behind the alleged attack, including analysis of samples taken from the scene.

Damascus fired back on Thursday, condemning “the campaign of deceit, shameless lies and fabrications set forth by… Ayrault”.

“This is an attempt to hide the truth of this crime and its perpetrators,” the Syrian foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The French government has neither the authority nor the judicial qualification to determine what happened in Khan Sheikhun.”

Syria’s government has repeatedly denied any use of chemical weapons including in Khan Sheikhun.

In an interview with AFP earlier this month Assad said the allegation was “100 percent fabrication” and a pretext for the US decision to launch air strikes against the Syrian airbase from where Washington believes the attack was launched.