Sarin or similar toxin used in Syria attack: Watchdog

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Damascus, April 20 (IANS) An international chemical weapons inspector has found “incontrovertible” evidence that sarin gas or a similar substance was used in a chemical attack in Syria earlier this month that killed 89 people.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) took biomedical samples from 10 victims of the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikhoun and found indications that they were exposed to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance, CNN reported on Thursday.

The findings showed that stockpiles of Sarin still exist in Syria. OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu said the biomedical samples were collected from three deceased victims, as well as from seven others undergoing treatment in a hospital.

“While further details of the laboratory analyses will follow, the analytical results already obtained are incontrovertible,” Uzumcu said in a statement.

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British scientists had already found that Sarin or a similar chemical was used in the attack, having tested samples smuggled from the site.

When asked whether its evidence amounted to proof that the Syrian regime carried out the attack, the OPCW said that it was still investigating the incident.

It pointed out that its mandate was to investigate the facts surrounding the attack.

The attack in Khan Sheikhoun has been widely blamed on the Syrian government, though Damascus denies it had anything to do with the attack and also denies it has any chemical weapons.

Syria blamed terrorist groups for the attack and Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that the attack was carried out by “forces” trying to frame the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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The attack in Syria prompted the United States to launch its first military strike on the Syrian regime in the six-year war, causing a major rift between Washington and Moscow.

On President Donald Trump’s orders, US warships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the airbase that was home to the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks, US officials said.

The chemical attack has boosted international calls to oust Assad from power as international ceasefire and peace talks continue to end the conflict, which has killed 400,000 people, according to UN data.



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