France Releases Declassified Report Detailing Assad's Role In Chemical Attacks
A declassified report released Saturday by France claims to provide evidence that the recent chemical attack in Syria was carried out on the orders of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The chemical strikes hit targets in Douma, which is just outside Damascus, and left victims with skin burns, breathing difficulties and other markers that indicate chlorine gas was used, according to The Hill.
“We have proof that last week, now 10 days ago, that chemical weapons were used, at least with chlorine, and that they were used by the regime of (President) Bashar al-Assad,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.
“Our teams have been working on this all week and we will need to take decisions in due course, when we judge it most useful and effective,” he added, as reported by Reuters.
The document states that the government of Syria has carried out a number of chemical attacks on its own people dating back to April 4, 2017, when an attack in the Idlib province in northern Syria left 80 dead.
The attack on April 7 of this year was just the latest in this series of chemical strikes.
“Reliable intelligence indicates that Syrian military officials have coordinated what appears to be the use of chemical weapons containing chlorine on Douma, on April 7,” reads the report, which was released by the French Foreign Ministry.
On Friday night, U.S. officials issued their own assessment, suggesting Syria’s government played a major role in the chemical attack in Douma.
The U.S. report cited “multiple media sources, the reported symptoms experienced by victims, videos and images showing two assessed barrel bombs from the attack, and reliable information indicating coordination between Syrian military officials before the attack.”
The report also claims that the Syrian government didn’t just use chlorine in its attack, but that the victims’ symptoms indicate they were exposed to a deadly nerve agent called sarin.
Assessments from both France and the U.S. came just hours after both countries, along with the United Kingdom, launched more than 100 missiles on Syrian targets.
Those targets ranged from military storage facilities to alleged chemical weapons arsenals, though Syria and its allies — particularly Russia — have maintained their innocence.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called out the three countries for failing to produce evidence of the Syrian government’s role in hurting its own citizens.
However, the strikes against Syria were not meant so much to punish Syria’s government and its allies as it was to rid the country of chemical weapons and ensure the Assad regime cannot produce more.
Director of the Joint Staff Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie admitted that while the airstrikes made a large dent in Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons, there are likely some “residual” elements of the program remaining.
The Trump administration has indicated it is ready for further action unless Assad and his government cease its alleged use of chemical weapons against its citizens.
“It was a successful mission,” Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said. “What happened next depends on what the Assad regime decides to do.”
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