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France

Strong indications of chemical weapons use by Syrian regime, says Fabius

media French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius. Reuters/Enrique De La Osa

France’s Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius says there are strong indications that the Syrian regime recently used chemical weapons in the northwest of the country. Syria had previously agreed to destroy its arsenal of chemical weapons before 30 June.

"What we have seen from this regime is the horrific methods it is capable of using and the rejection of any political transition," Fabius said during an interview with Europe 1 radio on Sunday.

Fabius said the recent attacks that may have included chemical weapons were less deadly than the attacks in Damascus a few months ago, but were still deadly. They took place in the northwest of Syria, not far from Lebanon.

A source close to the case said the information had come from various sources, including the Syrian opposition. Fabius said that on a humanitarian level, the Syrian regime has not complied with the directives set out by the United Nations:

"You may have heard of Caesar, it’s all the documentation that was collected on torture, massacres and murders that were committed by the Syrian government. The dossier is overwhelming - I saw the photos and read the testimonials, and they are horrible. All this was presented confidentially to the United Nations and it’s possible that this case could end up at the International Criminal Court."

Syria had agreed to cooperate with the terms of a US-Russia brokered deal reached in September 2013, wherein it must destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons by 30 June. If it does not comply, Syria risks US airstrikes.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said last week that Syria had given up nearly two-thirds of its stockpile. However, OPCW chief Ahmed Uzumcu said on 14 April that "both the frequency and the volumes of deliveries have to increase significantly" if Syria is to meet the deadline.

Norwegian and Danish naval vessels are working to remove the chemical products from Syria, at the port of Latakia in the west of the country. The more dangerous materials are transferred to a US Navy vessel that is equipped to destroy the chemicals at sea.
 

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