Syria Daily: Assad Regime Used “Sarin or Sarin-Like Substance” in Khan Sheikhoun Attack

A man holds a child killed by the nerve agent attack on Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria, April 4, 2017

International pressure on Assad regime grows over April 4 chemical attack in northwest Syria


France, the UK, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have each declared that “sarin or a sarin-like substance” was used in the chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria on April 4.

The French and British Foreign Ministers went farther and cited conclusive evidence that the Assad regime was responsible for the attack, by a Su-22 jet fighter firing a missile, which killed at least 93 people and wounded almost 600.

The OPCW, which is still seeking the co-operation of the regime to investigate inside Syria, did not attribute blame. However, it was clear that bio-medical samples from three victims during autopsies and seven in hospitals indicated exposure to a nerve agent.

Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü said, “While further details of the laboratory analyses will follow, the analytical results already obtained are incontrovertible.”

Sources from multiple governments — including Turkey, the US, Britain, and France — had already said that sarin was used and that the regime was the likely attacker. But no named official had gone on the record until Tuesday when Johnson told Parliament, “[There is] only one conclusion, that the Assad regime almost certainly gassed its own people in breach of international law and the rules of war.”

On Wednesday, Ayrault said, “We have elements that will allow us to show that the regime knowingly used chemical weapons. In a few days I will be able to bring you the proof.”

President Assad has insisted that there was no chemical attack at all, claiming that the evidence is “100% fabrication”.

Russia, Assad’s essential ally, has acknowledged that people died from chemical exposure; however, it has put out multiple, differing explanations. These include a rebel “false flag” attack to blame the regime, and a regime warplane hitting a rebel warehouse with chemical stocks.

None of the Russian claims has been supported with evidence, although they have been repeated — and extended — by conspiracy theorists, Assad regime supporters, and some Western journalists.

A “senior Israeli military officer”, briefing Israeli reporters, said on Wednesday that “a few tonnes of chemical weapons” remained in the hands of Assad’s forces, despite the regime supposedly handing over all stocks after its August 2013 attacks near Damascus that killed more than 1,400 people.

Some reports quoted the briefing officer as putting the amount at up to 3 tons.

Two days after the Khan Sheikhoun attack, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he was “100% certain” that the attack was “directly ordered and planned by Assad”.

The senior officer said yesterday, “It’s hard for me to believe that [Assad] didn’t know” about the use of the nerve agent.

TOP PHOTO: A father carries his child, a victim of the Assad regime’s April 4 chemical attack in northwest Syria

Opposition Town in Hama Province Gets Aid for 1st Time in 5 Years

The besieged town of Talaf, in southeast Hama Province, has received humanitarian aid for the first time in five years.

The Red Crescent delivered 800 food baskets and 3,600 hygiene kits to the town, about 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Hama city. Throughout the area of southern Hama Province, cut off since late 2012, the aid delivery includes 3,600 food baskets, 10,000 blankets, 2,000 kitchen supply kits, three generators, and electric transformers and medical equipment.

Ahmad Karoum, president of Talaf’s local council, said the assistance was “not enough for families , as the population numbers about 3,500″.

US Officials: Regime Moves Warplanes to Russian Base

The Assad regime has relocated the majority of its operational warplanes to the Russian airbase in western Syria, according to two “US defense officials”.

The warplanes were moved to the Hmeimim base at Basel al-Assad International Airport near Latakia. The re-deployment began soon after the US missile strikes on the Shayrat airbase in Homs Province, from which the Assad regime’s chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria was launched three days earlier, on April 7.

Local sources said up to 20 regime jets, some of them operational, were damaged or destroyed by the missiles, as well as hangars and support buildings. US Defense Secretary James Mattis claimed 20% of the regime’s operational warplanes were put out of action.

The positioning at Hmeimim means the regime’s aircraft are protected by advanced Russian-made anti-aircraft systems.

It is unclear how the regime air force will maintain bombing in areas such as the suburbs northeast of Damascus, where pro-Assad forces are trying to overrun remaining opposition territory, or in Daraa Province in southern Syria, where rebels have been advancing in Daraa city.

Russia has taken over much of the aerial attacks from the regime, according to local observers and videos of recent strikes.

Video: Russia Dropping Thermobaric “Parachute” Bombs on Northern Hama Province

Footage of a thermobaric, parachute-retarded bomb dropped by a Russian warplane on opposition territory in northern Hama Province:

Russia has stepped up its airstrikes in recent weeks — including incendiary, thermobaric, and cluster munitions — escalated further after the US missile attack on an Assad regime on April 7. The opposition said on Tuesday that the number and intensity of Russian strikes has now overtaken those by regime forces.

Russian airpower has been instrumental in pushing back a rebel offensive that took about 25 towns and villages in northern Hama last month. The attacks have also focused on destroying civilian infrastructure, including hospitals.

Russian bombing of Latamneh on Thursday morning:

Meanwhile, the Assad regime is maintaining its intense bombing of the opposition-held suburbs northeast of Damascus:

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  1. Ask the folks in Halabja if there were conclusive evidence of weaponized chemical weapons in Saddam’s armed forces. I’d even wager that the stockpiles that were used in the Khan Sheikhoun attack originated in Iraq. Again, Assad had sucker Obama pay for a major chemical waste cleanup that was a major liability for the regime. He very likely kept the most effective weaponized stuff (VX and Sarin) and was laughing the whole time.

  2. Scott,
    I hope this new EA look is a work in progress, there are things that need fixing. Only the latest news show the number of reader posts.

  3. Could you elaborate on the “conclusive evidence” produced by the UK and France that a missile was fired causing all of these deaths. Can we see the wreckage of this missile. So far, all we have seen is the pipe of an artillery rocket or mortar (not an air-launched missile). Also, how is it that they cannot determine, definitely, whether sarin (and not something similar to it) was used?

  4. President Assad has insisted that there was no chemical attack at all, claiming that the evidence is “100% fabrication”.

    No. He stated that the claim that he ordered a chemical attack was 100% fabrication. He said he didn’t know whether the reports were true or not.

      • From the transcript: “They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack….About the attack, as I said, it’s not clear whether it happened or not, because how can you verify a video? You have a lot of fake videos now, and you have the proof that those videos were fake….Who committed the attack if there was an attack? What’s the material? You have no information at all, nothing at all, no-one investigated.”

      • Razmjoo, persistent though your efforts are to cover up for mass murder, your efforts to rewrite Assad’s words are nonsensical. He clearly suggested that the whole thing was a fabrication, not just the attribution of blame. He suggested the videos had been faked, that there was no way of knowing if the children were dead, etc.
        Apart from the mountain of evidence against the regime, which only a completely intellectually dishonest person could ignore, is it not a bit weird that the regime hasn’t been calling for an investigation and tripping over itself to provide flight logs, etc, that would prove its innocence. If I was falsely accused of a crime, I’d want the most comprehensive investigation possible, in order to get to the facts. And yet, the regime and its Russian enablers have no interest in an investigation, and indeed, Russia vetoed a UN resolution calling on the regime to provide flight logs, etc.

  5. #Hama: “FSA Army of Victory, #AhrarAlSham, and also #ShamLegion sending reinforcements for the counter-attack on Taybeh Imam City #Hama” – badly_xeroxed
    Why aren’t rebels not also launching diversionary offensives in eastern Hama? Not large unit operations but multiple groups of fast-moving (using truck-mounted light-artillery as well as motorbike assault units?) mobile small-units carrying out night-time mobile (ie not tied to one location but circulating/rotating around several areas) warfare operations (e.g. over-running regime positions in raids/ambushes, taking all captured equipment and then withdrawing and then keep repeating this over and over again: just like Jaish Al-Islam did in Damascus did a few days ago) as that area is ideal (ie can hide/conceal in and ambush from the desert) for this type of warfare.

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