French lab tests show sarin used in Syrian conflict
France declared last night that it was "certain" that sarin gas had been used in Syria's civil war as Britain's foreign secretary William Hague said the scale of the atrocities being committed by the Assad regime "is becoming ever clearer".
Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, said tests carried out by a laboratory proved that sarin had been used on multiple occasions and stated that all options were on the table as a result.
It is believed to be the first time that a Western nation has said chemical weapons have definitely been used in Syria. Sarin gas is a potentially fatal nerve agent that can prevent victims from breathing.
Mr Fabius did not say whether Bashar al-Assad's regime or rebels had used the gas, but declared it would be "unacceptable" for the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks to go unpunished.
He said a Paris laboratory had tested samples recovered from the country and found "localised" attacks in two towns, Jobar and Saraqib. The samples have been handed over to the United Nations.
"These tests show the presence of sarin in various samples in our possession," Mr Fabius said. "France is now certain that sarin gas has been in Syria several times."
Mr Hague called for the full facts on chemical weapons usage to be established. "This announcement adds further weight to the need for a full and unimpeded investigation into all relevant incidents. The UN investigation team must be allowed unrestricted access to investigate on the ground in Syria and we call on the Assad regime to fully co-operate with it," he said.
The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said it established there were four credible reports of toxic chemical use in March and April. Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, said the organisation had witnessed "sickening" levels of violence in the country. "Frankly he finds the catalogue of atrocities in that report to be both sickening and staggering," a spokesman said.
Paulo Pinheiro, the chairman of the inquiry, said it could not be certain which side had ordered the attacks and demanded access for inspectors to investigate. "The witnesses that we have interviewed include victims, refugees who fled some areas, and medical staff," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)