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France points to Assad regime chemical use

President Francois Hollande said Sunday that France has 'information' but not yet proof that Assad's regime is still using chemical weapons

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President Francois Hollande said Sunday that France has "information" but not yet proof that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime is still using chemical weapons.

"We have a few elements of information but I do not have the proof," Hollande told journalists in a radio interview after he was asked about reports that Assad was currently using chemical weapons.

"What I do know is what we have seen from this regime is the horrific methods it is capable of using and the rejection of any political transition," he told the Europe 1 radio station.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, speaking to the same radio staton, said that there were “indications” of chemical weapon use but that they had “yet to be verified.”

Speaking about the recent chemical attacks in northwest Syria, the foreign minister said while they were “much less significant than those in Damascus a few months ago,” but still very “deadly.”

A French source close to the matter told Agence France-Presse the reports "had come from different sources, including the Syrian opposition."

However, there are conflicting account about one attack that occurred in the town of Kafr Zita in the central Hama province in April. Both the government and opposition have accused each other.

Activists blame the regime, saying that its use of chlorine gas caused “more than 100 cases of suffocation.”

Videos circulated by opposition activists on Youtube showed men and children in a field hospital coughing and showing symptoms of suffocation.

State television blamed the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra front for the attack, reporting it had caused two deaths and 100 cases of suffocation.

Per the U.S.-Russia brokered agreement, Syria has until the end of June to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile in order to avoid threats of U.S. air strikes.

The agreement was reached after a deadly chemical attack outside Damascus last August that the West blamed on Assad's regime.

Last week the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the global chemical watchdog, said Syria had surrendered almost two-thirds of its chemical weapons.

Speaking on April 14 after Syria had completed its latest shipment, the OPCW chief Ahmed Uzumcu said "both the frequency and the volumes of deliveries have to increase significantly" if the deadline was to be met.


(With AFP)