Syria gov’t behind sarin gas attack in April: UN probe
GENEVA - Agence France-PresseUnited Nations war crimes investigators on Sept. 6 said they had evidence that Syrian government forces were behind a chemical attack that killed dozens of people in Khan Sheikhun in April.
In the first U.N. report to officially blame Damascus, the U.N. Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Syria said it had gathered an "extensive body of information" showing the Syrian airforce was behind the horrific sarin gas attack on April 4.
"All evidence available leads the Commission to conclude that there are reasonable grounds to believe Syrian forces dropped an aerial bomb dispersing sarin in Khan Sheikhun," the report said.
At least 83 people, a third of them children, were killed and nearly 300 wounded in the attack on Khan Sheikhun, a town in the opposition-held northern province of Idlib, it said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, has previously given a death toll of at least 87.
Syria's government has denied involvement and claims it no longer possesses chemical weapons after a 2013 agreement under which it pledged to surrender its chemical arsenal.
A fact-finding mission by the U.N.'s chemical watchdog, the OPCW, concluded earlier this year that sarin gas was used in the attack, but did not assign blame.
A joint U.N.-OPCW panel is currently working to determine whether Syrian government forces were behind the attack.
But the report of Sept. 6 is the first from the U.N. to officially lay the blame for the attack on Damascus.
The report also found the Syrian government responsible for at least 23 other chemical attacks in the war-ravaged country since March 2013.
The investigators, who have never been granted access to Syria, said they based their findings on photographs of bomb remnants, satellite imagery and eyewitness testimony.