09/07/2017, 10.14
SYRIA - UN

UN: Syria used sarin gas on Khan Sheikhoun

According to experts, a government Su-22 jet dropped four bombs: three conventional ones and one with the Soviet chemical manufacturing agent. Damascus rejects accusations and speaks of fake news. De Mistura urges "political process": Damascus cannot declare victory and the rebels must accept their defeat.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Syrian government forces used chemical weapons during the April attack on Khan Sheikhoun , about 50km from Idlib in Syria's northwest, according to an investigation by an independent UN human rights commission.  Their findings  report that at least 83 people died when a government Su-22 jet dropped four bombs: three conventional ones and one with sarin gas.

The report also points to the United States, which hit a mosque complex in March during an air raid, killing 38 people. The attack, warns experts, is a violation of international law because "no measures were taken to minimize civilian casualties".

In June a report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPAC) stated that the people involved in the April 4 attack had been exposed to chemical agents, particularly sarin gas. However, the experts failed to determine the origins of the gas attack or the perpetrators.

Now the UN commission report points to Damascus. In response, the Syrian government continues to deny all charges, speaking of fake news and categorically denying the use of chemical agents.

The new Opac-UN joint study, is based on interviews with 43 eye witnesses, including victims and early rescuers on the site. From their words it emerges that a Su-22 fighter carried out four raids in the day; the jet is only available to the Syrian army and is easily identifiable.

Analysis of craters formed as a result of explosions and satellite imagery also shows that three conventional bombs and one containing sarin gas were used. Investigators also reject the hypothesis relaunched by Russia that a gas deposit was hit, which caused the gas to escape.

President Bashar al-Assad is claiming that Khan the Sheikhoun attack - which triggered a US response, with an air raid on a government air base - was "framed". The Damascus leader also added that his army destroyed its entire chemical arsenal as a result of the agreement between Russia and the United States in 2013.

Yesterday, the United Nations Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura spoke took a new position in the Syrian conflict. The United Nations High Representative has called on opposition leaders to be realistic and accept the fact that they have lost the war. However, members of the HNC, supported by the Saudis, continue to insist on Assad's expulsion as a precondition for any agreement.

De Mistura also addressed the Syrian government, pointing out that it cannot "declare victory" because such a position would in fact undermine the continuation of the negotiations and the end of a conflict that has been fought for over six years and has caused more than 330,000 casualties . "The only response - warns the UN diplomat in view of the new round of negotiations in Geneva, scheduled for next month - is the political process."

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