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After scathing investigation, US says 'impossible to deny' Syria launched chemical weapon attacks

Most of the cases investigated pointed to the alleged use of chlorine gas in barrel bombs dropped from helicopters. Photograph: (Getty)

AFP United Nations, United States Aug 24, 2016, 11.10 PM (IST)
After a scathing investigation by the United Nation (UN), the White House said Wednesday it was "impossible to deny" that Syria had launched chemical weapon attacks, while calling for President Bashar al-Assad`s regime to be held accountable.

A UN investigation has established that Assad's regime and Islamic State group jihadists carried out chemical weapons attacks in Syria, France's deputy ambassador said Wednesday.

The report by the investigative panel "states clearly that the Syrian regime and Daesh have perpetrated chemical attacks in Syria," Alexis Lamek told reporters, using an alternative name for the group. Most of the cases investigated pointed to the alleged use of chlorine gas in barrel bombs dropped from helicopters.

The investigation panel was able to identify the perpetrators of three chemical attacks carried out in 2014 and 2015, but was unable to draw any conclusions in the other six cases that it has been investigating over the past year.

"It is now impossible to deny that the Syrian regime has repeatedly used industrial chlorine as a weapon against its own people," National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said reacting to the investigation. 

"The United States will work with our international partners to seek accountability through appropriate diplomatic mechanisms, including through the United Nations Security Council."

Price said the findings "present yet another opportunity for all nations to speak with one voice to address these heinous crimes and to make it clear that the use of chemical weapons is intolerable."

That is likely to be seen as a veiled message to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, among others.

The White House is turning up the diplomatic heat as Putin prepares to travel to the G20 in China and UN General Assembly in New York in the coming weeks.

President Barack Obama recently warned Russia it faces fierce international rebuke if it continues to make common cause with Syria`s brutal regime.

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