France May Lack 'Conclusive' Proof of Syria Chlorine Strikes

A poster seen in Paris on Monday displays criticism of Syrian President Bashar Assad. France said physical indications of chlorine-gas strikes by Syria's government may not definitively prove that Damascus used the chemical as a weapon.
A poster seen in Paris on Monday displays criticism of Syrian President Bashar Assad. France said physical indications of chlorine-gas strikes by Syria's government may not definitively prove that Damascus used the chemical as a weapon. (Ammar Abd Rabbo/AFP/Getty Images)

France said physical signs of chlorine assaults by Syria's regime may not definitively prove that Damascus used the poison in attacks, Reuters reports.

A weeks-long, multinational review of 14 material sets gathered from the war-ravaged nation "may not necessarily prove to be conclusive [and] will need to be complemented with other information," French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said on Thursday.

Paris last month accused President Bashar Assad's government of carrying out at least 14 strikes with chlorine gas since October. Damascus has blamed rebels for any chemical attacks in Syria's 3-year-old civil war, though it agreed to give up a stockpile of nerve- and blister-agent materials after sarin gas killed hundreds of people in opposition-held territory last summer.

The regime's chemical arsenal did not include chlorine, a substance commonly used in industry. Still, any government-sponsored chlorine strikes would violate terms accepted by Assad's government amid threats of an international military response to an Aug. 21 sarin attack.

France is looking further into the chlorine-strike allegations by assessing internal regime correspondence, symptoms of purported victims, and possible remnants of deployment systems, according to a French diplomatic insider.

The source said France is receiving British and U.S. assistance in clarifying its understanding of the alleged assaults. The claims are also the focus of a separate investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

News of the French uncertainties emerged as a Damascus-area medical center said a chemical attack may have been responsible for killing two people and wounding seven others on Thursday, the Times of Israel reported. The Surgical Hospital of Irbin said the possible victims experienced symptoms that included facial swelling, respiratory difficulties and inflammation in and around the eyes.

In footage released on Thursday by a group identifying itself as "the unified media bureau of Irbin," a man appears to struggle for breath while receiving medical attention.

June 6, 2014
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France said physical signs of chlorine assaults by Syria's regime may not definitively prove that Damascus used the poison in attacks, Reuters reports.

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