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France Sees Indications of New Syrian Chemical Strikes

A man holds a portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad at a rally in the village of Jobar last week. French President Francois Hollande on Sunday said his government has seen indications of possible new chemical strikes against Assad's opponents. A man holds a portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad at a rally in the village of Jobar last week. French President Francois Hollande on Sunday said his government has seen indications of possible new chemical strikes against Assad's opponents. (AFP/Getty Images)

French President Francois Hollande said Paris has seen indications of a new chemical-arms attack against the Syrian opposition, the London Guardian reports.

Hollande on Sunday did not elaborate on what "information" his government holds, and he stressed that the data was not conclusive. Opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government have described nine possible incidents of chemical-weapons use over the last two months in the country's civil war.

The apparent strikes were "much less significant than those in Damascus ... but very deadly," Hollande told the European broadcaster Radio 1.

The claims, which came from anti-Assad groups both outside of Syria and in the nation's western and southern regions, linked the possible strikes to at least 10 deaths and additional injuries in the hundreds. Assad's government agreed to surrender its chemical-warfare stockpile last year, after sarin nerve agent in August killed hundreds of people in an opposition-controlled suburb of the Syrian capital.

Still, the regime has denied responsibility for any chemical strikes. On Saturday, Iran's Fars News Agency accused rebels of carrying out chlorine-gas attacks in the Syrian city of Homs.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is helping to monitor the dismantlement of Assad's arsenal, has said it would not review new allegations of Syrian chemical-arms use without a member country's request.

The watchdog agency on Sunday said ships have removed roughly four-fifths of Assad's chemical stockpile from Syria. The latest shipments would "contribute" to efforts to fully destroy the materials by the end of June, according to an OPCW statement.

Sigrid Kaag, the special coordinator of a U.N.-OPCW oversight operation, in Saturday comments said "the renewed pace in movements is positive and necessary to ensure progress towards a tight deadline."

International authorities said Assad's government has finished eliminating unfilled mustard-agent shells, and has taken steps to shutter sites for manufacturing and holding warfare chemicals.

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