The UN Blames Assad for a Sarin Attack

Bashar al Assad to blame for sarin gas attack which killed dozens says UN

Russia, an ally of Assad, claims that the sarin found in Khan Shaykhun is the result of a projectile explosion on the ground rather than a Syrian aerial attack. "The Security Council must send a clear message that the use of chemical weapons by anyone will not be tolerated". Citing an official in Syria's foreign ministry, State news agency SANA reported that Damascus rejects in form and substance what was included in the report of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM).

Responding to Thursday's report, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said: "Today's report confirms what we have long known to be true". Its mandate ends on November 18.

The UN placed the death toll at 83 while the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was 87.

HAS destroyed all of its Cold War chemical weapons stocks, President Vladimir Putin boasted October 19 when he appeared before the Valdai forum in Sochi. In June, investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said the attack probably involved the use of sarin, a lethal nerve agent, or similar toxic weapons.

Syria, the ministry said, considers the use of chemical weapons an immoral and condemnable act anywhere, at any time, and under any circumstances.

"This report and the one that preceded it are falsifications of the truth and distort the exact information on what happened at Khan Sheikhun".

Linda Fasulo, reporting for NPR from the United Nations, says the OPCW conclusion "coincides with initial findings by Washington in April, which resulted in a retaliatory USA missile strike against a Syrian airbase". The OPCW does not have a mandate to assign blame for the attacks, leaving that determination to the JIM.

The report by the experts supports the initial findings by the United States, France and Britain that a Syrian military plane dropped a bomb with sarin on the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

The JIM was unanimously created by the 15-member U.N. Security Council in 2015 and renewed in 2016 for another year.

The JIM has already concluded that Syrian government forces were responsible for chlorine attacks on three villages in 2014 and 2015, and that Islamic State jihadist group used mustard gas in 2015.

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