Assad regime behind attack, France to produce proof
France says it will provide proof within days that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime carried out the April 4 chemical attack in Syria that killed at least 90 people.
Speaking on French TV, Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said: "We will provide proof that the regime did indeed organise these strikes with chemical weapons."
He said he couldn't provide evidence now because analysis is still underway but added: "In a few days I'll be able to provide proof." Assad has denied that he was behind the attack. Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons arsenal in 2013.
Speaking on Thursday, French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon called on the United Nations to punish those behind the attack and said "whoever uses chemical weapons should be condemned." The governing body of the global chemical arms watchdog voted on Thursday on a controversial Russian-Iranian move to set up a new team to probe a suspected chemical attack in Syria, sources told AFP. The draft decision, seen by AFP, calls for an investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) "to establish whether chemical weapons were used in Khan Sheikhoun and how they were delivered to the site of the reported incident" — even though an official probe is already underway.
The UN's Syria envoy said on Thursday that he will hold talks with Russian officials next week but without the US present after previous plans for a trilateral meeting were "postponed".
UN peace mediator Staffan de Mistura said his meeting with Russia's deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov is set for Monday in Geneva. "The trilateral meeting is not off the table, it is simply being postponed", de Mistura told reporters.
Asked why US President Donald Trump's representatives decided to skip the meeting, de Mistura said: "you should ask them, frankly."
Syrian regime supporter Moscow and opposition-backer Washington had been the key foreign powers shaping the UN's Syria peace process.
De Mistura has previously asked for more clarity from Trump's administration on its vision for the Syria talks.
Israel: Assad's forces still have several tonnes of chemical weapons
Jerusalem: Israel's military said that it believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces still possess several tonnes of chemical weapons, issuing the assessment two weeks after a chemical attack that killed nearly 90 people in Syria. Israel, along with many countries, blames the strike on Assad's military. A senior Israeli military officer, in a briefing to Israeli reporters, said "a few tonnes of chemical weapons" (upto 3 tonnes) remained in the hands of Assad's forces, a military official said. A global watchdog said sarin or a similar banned toxin was used.
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