French President Francois Hollande and FM Laurent Fabius 370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
French President Francois Hollande said Sunday that his country had "information" that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has continued using chemical weapons, although Paris lacked proof, AFP reported.
"We have a few elements of information but I do not have the proof," AFP quoted Hollande as telling the Europe 1 radio station.
Asked about recent reports
that the Damascus regime was still using chemical weapons in the embattled country, Hollande said: "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".
Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 that so far unverified "indications" were present of recent chemical attacks in Syria.
According to the report, Fabius said the current signs pointed toward chemical attacks in northwestern Syria near the border with Lebanon that were "very deadly," but "much less significant than those in Damascus a few months ago".
On April 12, the Syrian regime and opposition forces accused each other of carrying out a chemical attack on the village of Kafr Zeita, located in the embattled country’s western-central province of Hama.
Opposition activists reported that dozens of residents suffered from symptoms of suffocation after air units loyal to Assad targeted the town with explosive barrels allegedly containing toxic material.
Meanwhile, Syrian state television reported that the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front rebel group was responsible for an attack using chlorine gas, killing two people and wounding more than 100 others.
On March 31, an Israeli security source confirmed that the Assad regime had used a non-lethal chemical weapon on March 27 on the outskirts of Damascus. The source said he could confirm claims made by Syrian rebels and doctors last month that a substance had been used on rebel fighters in Harasta, an outlying region of the Syrian capital, adding that the chemical “neutralizes [threats] but does not kill.”
A second alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime occurred in the same area within days of the first attack, according to Syrian opposition sources, though the Israeli security source said he could not confirm the report.
In one instance, according to the New York-based website Syria Deeply, which interviewed doctors on the ground, 25 fighters were wounded.
Despite the assertion by the Israeli source that the chemical was nonlethal, some reports suggested that four people had died in the March 27 attack.
Syria Deeply cited the Syrian American Medical Society, a group of Syrian-American doctors and surgeons who travel to Syria, as condemning what it described as a “poisonous gas attack” in Harasta.
Syria has destroyed the majority of its chemical weapon production centers and is in the midst of transporting existing arms from storage sites to ships in Latakia to remove the substances and destroy them, according to Israeli security assessments.
The disarmament efforts, which have been stepped up in recent weeks, are being managed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Prior to the disarmament program, Syria had amassed the world’s largest stockpile of VX nerve agents, Sarin and mustard gas.
In August 2013, a chemical attack on a rebel-held area north of Damascus left 1,400 civilians dead. The massacre led to a Russian- brokered disarmament agreement that saw Assad agree to give up the unconventional arms in exchange for avoiding a US military strike.