France sure As­sad be­hind at­tack of own cit­i­zens

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - NEWS - Led­yard King and Oren Dorell

WASH­ING­TON – A re­port by France con­cludes the As­sad regime was be­hind the April 7 chem­i­cal at­tack on civil­ians in the Douma sub­urb of Da­m­as­cus. It’s the first de­tailed gov­ern­men­tal assess­ment lay­ing out the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the U.S.-led al­lied strikes on Syria.

“Be­yond pos­si­ble doubt, a chem­i­cal at­tack was car­ried out against civil­ians at Douma, (and) there is no plau­si­ble sce­nario other than that of an at­tack by Syr­ian armed forces as part of a wider of­fen­sive in the Eastern Ghouta en­clave,” said the re­port is­sued Satur­day by the French govern­ment.

The re­port, based on tech­ni­cal analy­ses of wit­ness ac­counts, pho­tos and videos that ap­peared around the same time as a Syr­ian govern­ment of­fen­sive in Douma, was pro­vided by the French em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton.

“Af­ter ex­am­in­ing the videos and im­ages of vic­tims pub­lished on­line, (French in­tel­li­gence ser­vices) were able to con­clude with a high de­gree of con­fi­dence that the vast ma­jor­ity are re­cent and not fab­ri­cated,” it said.

The anal­y­sis was re­leased hours af­ter the U.S., France and Bri­tain fired 105 mis­siles at three chem­i­cal weapons fa­cil­i­ties in Syria — and about an hour be­fore the con­ven­ing of an emer­gency meet­ing of the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil called for by Rus­sia, a Syr­ian ally that dis­putes the charge that chem­i­cal weapons were used.

Dur­ing the U.N.’s emer­gency meet­ing Satur­day, Nikki Ha­ley, the U.S. am­bas­sador to the U.N., pushed back on the Rus­sian de­nials.

“Rus­sia’s des­per­ate at­tempts at de­flec­tion can­not change the facts,” she said. “The pic­tures of dead chil­dren were not fake news. They were the re­sult of the Syr­ian regime’s bar­baric in­hu­man­ity.”

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