France issues report with evidence Assad used chemicals in attack

In the aftermath of the early morning attacks on Syria, France declassified a report with details they say prove that a chemical attack in Syria last week was carried out by the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Officials in France on Saturday declassified a report with details they say prove that a chemical attack in Syria last week was carried out by the regime of President Bashar Assad. Photo by Francois Guillot/EPA-EFE
Officials in France on Saturday declassified a report with details they say prove that a chemical attack in Syria last week was carried out by the regime of President Bashar Assad. Photo by Francois Guillot/EPA-EFE

The seven-page report, released by the Foreign Ministry on Saturday, said chemicals used in attacks on the Damascus suburb of Douma April 7 left victims with skin and cornea burns, suffocation and other breathing difficulties and extreme salivation and secretions from the mouth and nose, all markers consistent with the effects of chlorine gas.

The report also states other strikes using chemical weapons have been carried out by the Syrian government since April 4, 2017, when a chemical attack in Syria’s northern Idlib province left more than 80 civilians dead.

French President Emmanuel Macron had been under pressure to back his claim that France has “proof” of Assad’s role in the chemical attack in Douma.

France joined the United States and Great Britain early Saturday in firing 105 missiles at three sites in a “proportional” attack, destroying “fundamental components” of Syria’s chemical weapons infrastructure including a research center in greater Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility and another storage facility and command center, both in Homs.

France’s conclusions were supported U.S. officials who determined that chlorine and sarin, a highly toxic nerve agent, were used on the civilians in the April 7 attack.

President Donald Trump and other officials said the United States is prepared to take further action in Syria if Assad’s government again uses chemical weapons.

On Saturday, during the United Nations Security Council’s emergency meeting to discuss the Syria airstrikes, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the United States was prepared to sustain its pressure on Syria.

“The time for talk ended last night. We are prepared to sustain this pressure, if the Syrian regime is foolish enough to test our will,” Haley said. “The United States is locked and loaded. When our president draws a red line, our president enforces a red line.”

The meeting was called by Russia, which failed to get 15 ambassadors to adopt a resolution condemning the airstrikes.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres cautioned against the crisis in Syria “spiraling out of control.”

“I stress the need to avoid the situation from spiraling out of control,” Guterres said, referring to remarks made in a meeting on Friday.

A United Nations tweet reiterated Guterres’ statement:”I urge all Member States to show restraint in these dangerous circumstances & to avoid any acts that could escalate the situation and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people.”

The U.S.-led strikes prompted defiant celebrations on the streets in Damascus on Saturday, as residents danced to patriotic songs, waved Syrian flags alongside flags of their allies, Russia and Iran.

By Susan McFarland