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French intelligence: Assad carried out sarin gas attack

PARIS French intelligence has concluded that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out a sarin nerve gas attack on April 4 in northern Syria and that he or members of his inner circle ordered the strike, a declassified report showed.

The chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed scores of people, according to a war monitor, Syrian opposition groups and Western countries.

It prompted the United States to launch cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base, its first deliberate assault on the Assad government in the six-year-old conflict.

Mr Assad has said in two media interviews since April 4 that the evidence of a poison gas attack was false and denied his government had ever used chemical weapons.

The six-page document - drawn up by France's military and foreign intelligence services and seen by Reuters - said it reached its conclusion based on samples they had obtained from the impact strike on the ground and a blood sample from a victim.

"We know, from a certain source, that the process of fabrication of the samples taken is typical of the method developed in Syrian laboratories," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said after presenting the findings.

"This method is the signature of the regime and it is what enables us to establish the responsibility of the attack. We know because we kept samples from previous attacks that we were able to use for comparison."

Among the elements found in the samples were hexamine, a hallmark of sarin produced by the Syrian government, according to the report. - REUTERS

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