French intelligence has concluded that Bashar al-Assad forces carried out the sarin nerve gas attack on April 4 in northern Syria. Assad or members of his inner circle ordered the strike, a declassified report showed on Wednesday.
The six-page French document. drawn up by France’s military and foreign intelligence services and seen by Reuters, said it reached its conclusion based on samples they had obtained from the impact strike on the ground and a blood sample from a victim.
“We know, from a certain source, that the process of fabrication of the samples taken is typical of the method developed in Syrian laboratories,” Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters after presenting the findings to the cabinet.
“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.”
Among the elements found in the samples were hexamine, a hallmark of sarin produced by the Assad regime, according to the report.
The report said the findings matched the results of samples obtained by French intelligence, including an unexploded grenade, from an attack in Saraqib on April 29, 2013.
“This production process is developed by Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) for the regime,” the report said.
The report, which lists some 140 suspected chemical attacks in Syria since 2012, also said intelligence services were aware of an Assad regime Sukhoi 22 warplane that had struck six times on Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 and that samples taken from the ground were consistent with an airborne projectile that had munitions loaded with sarin.
“The French intelligence services consider that only Bashar al-Assad and some of his most influential entourage can give the order to use chemical weapons,” the report said.
The report added that rebel groups in the area in Idlib province did not have the capacity to develop and launch such an attack and that the Islamic State was not in the region.
Assad’s assertion 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 social media posts and video showing people with neurotoxic symptoms,” the report said. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)