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Syria chemical attack: Assad regime forces behind deadly sarin explosion, finds UN report

- khan sheikhoun - Syria chemical attack: Assad regime forces behind deadly sarin explosion, finds UN report


A new report from the UN has found that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are to blame for a deadly chemical attack that killed more than 90 people in a rebel village earlier this year. 

The investigation from the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), released on Thursday, said that experts are “confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April 2017”.

Dozens of people were rushed to hospital in the rebel-held town in Idlib province after the incident with symptoms such as convulsions, suffocation, coughing blood and foaming at the mouth, consistent with either sarin gas – a nerve agent – or chlorine exposure, Medecins Sans Frontieres said their staff found. 

Images and video from the incident, including dying children, caused outrage around the world, and eventually led to US President Donald Trump’s “warning shot” barrage of 59 Tomahawk missiles on a nearby Syrian airbase – the only direct US intervention in Syria’s civil war to date.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly denied his government has any chemical weapons stocks after agreeing to give them up to international monitors in 2013.

Damascus, along with its Russian and Iranian allies, have said that the casualties were caused when a conventional air strike on an al-Qaeda weapons depot nearby caused an explosion, releasing the deadly gases. 

Russia has used its position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to repeatedly shield the Syrian government from international action. 

Earlier this week, Russia vetoed a resolution extending the mandate of the UN and OPCW’s Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) into the use of chemical weapon’s in Syria’s war. 

The new JIM report, however, backs up preliminary findings by UK, US, French and Israeli intelligence that it was a Syrian warplane that dropped sarin on the town.

“Britain condemns this appalling breach of the rules of war and calls on the international community to unite to hold Assad’s regime accountable,” Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in response to the report.

His comments were echoed by US ambassador to the UN, who also reprimanded Russia for shielding the Syrian government.

 “In spite of these independent reports, we still see some countries trying to protect the regime. That must end now,” she said. 

It is the security council’s role to make it clear that “the use of chemical weapons by anyone will not be tolerated,” Ms Haley added. 

A statement from the Russian mission to the UN said “We have started a thorough study of this paper, which is of very complex technical nature.“

Chemical attack ‘100 per cent fabrication’, Assad says

There has been no formal response from the Syrian authorities. 

The Syrian government surrendered its chemical arsenal to the OPCW after the deaths of hundreds in a sarin attack on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus in 2013, although the opposition has long accused the regime of holding back some of its supply.

The international watchdog has said it believes Mr Assad’s government is responsible for at least three chemical weapons attacks that have occurred in Syria since then – claims the president also denies.

Independent

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Middle East

15 Civilians Killed, Injured in Turkish Strikes on Afrin: Official

- e7523a3c68ddf4be6a508bd1ab873f3e L - 15 Civilians Killed, Injured in Turkish Strikes on Afrin: Official


ERBIL — At least two civilians were killed and 13 others were wounded on Sunday as a result of the Turkish military assault on Afrin, northwest of Syria, a local official said.

Osama Sheikh Issa, co-chair of Afrin local administration told Kurdistan24 that what Turkey is trying to achieve is having revenge on the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection (YPG) and Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) fighter’s victory against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

“All of the casualties of the Turkish attacks were civil people who had nothing to do with the war” he pointed out.

Issa also asserted that the residents of Afrin are confidently staying in their city, but the displaced Syrian people who had found refuge in Afrin are in danger because of the Turkish assault on the city.

He further ensured that “none of the YPG and YPJ units have been targeted by the Turkish strikes, in deed all the attacks have been aimed at the homes of civilians in Afrin”.

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Middle East

Iran Calls on Turkey to Halt Afrin Operation

- 6cce60afe0e9652295227731138f696c L - Iran Calls on Turkey to Halt Afrin Operation


ERBIL — The Islamic Republic of Iran has called on Turkey to halt the Afrin operation and respect Syria’s territorial integrity, said a spokesperson for Iranian Foreign Ministry.

According to Mehr News Agency, Bahram Ghasemi said that Iran is closely and concernedly following the current developments in the city of Afrin.

“Iran hopes that the operation will immediately come to an end to stop the deepening of the crisis in the border areas of Turkey and Syria” he added. 

“The continuation of the crisis in Afrin may further strengthen the takfirist-terrorist groups in the northern Syrian regions, and flare up the fires of war ” warned the Iranian foreign ministry.

Qasemi also drew attention to the Astana peace talks and stated that all countries, especially Turkey, are expected to remain committed to the political solution, especially Astana peace process, for the Syrian crisis and continue observing their commitments and playing their constructive role in the resolution of the crisis.

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Middle East

[Watch]: YPG Destroys Turkish Tank near Afrin

- a515aef23f394e0974fa089da5993b99 L - [Watch]: YPG Destroys Turkish Tank near Afrin


ERBIL — The US-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) released a footage on Sunday which shows them destroying a Turkish tank near the border city of Afrin.

The YPG fighters appear in the video destroying a Turkish tank with an anti-tank missile.

Turkey on Saturday launched a new air and ground operation on Afrin, a Kurdish city in the northwest of Syria, dubbed as the “Olive Branch Operation”.

The assault has so far left dozens killed and injured, including civilians and fighters from the both sides.

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