The global chemical weapons watchdog has said tests confirmed a nerve agent was used in an attack in Syria earlier this month that killed nearly 90 people, and France said it had evidence the Syrian Government was responsible.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said its tests on victims of the incident were “incontrovertible” proof sarin or a sarin-like substance was used.
The finding was based on tests on bio-medical samples collected from three victims during their autopsies that were analysed at two OPCW-designated laboratories, the global chemical weapons watchdog said.
“Bio-medical samples from seven individuals undergoing treatment at hospitals … [also] indicate exposure to sarin or a sarin like substance,” the OPCW statement said.
The finding supported earlier testing by Turkish and British laboratories.
Syria said its weapons were destroyed in 2014 and it blamed a conspiracy between the United States and an extremist group linked to Al Qaeda.
The French foreign minister said his Government was preparing to publish evidence to show the Syrian Government knowingly used chemical weapons in the incident.
Israel said it believed Syria retained up to three tonnes of the weapons.
Israel, along with the US and much of the international community, has accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces of carrying out the attack, which killed at least 90 people, including dozens of children.
A senior Israeli military official said Israeli intelligence believes Syrian military commanders ordered the attack, with Mr Assad’s knowledge.
Briefing reporters, he said Israel estimates Mr Assad still has “between one and three tons” of chemical weapons.
The assessment was confirmed by two other Israeli defence officials.
All of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity under military briefing rules.
Mr Assad has strongly denied he was behind the attack in the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s northern Idlib province, and has accused the opposition of trying to frame his Government.
Top Assad ally Russia has asserted a Syrian Government airstrike hit a rebel chemical weapons factory, causing the disaster.
In response to the April 4 attack, the US fired 59 missiles at a Syrian air base it said was the launching pad for the attack.
Israel welcomed the strike on its northern neighbour.
The Syrian Government has been locked in a six-year civil war against an array of opposition forces.
The fighting has killed an estimated 400,000 people and displaced half of Syria’s population.