United Nations investigators blamed a sarin gas massacre on Bashar al-Assad’s regime, as the United States renewed its warning that he has no role in Syria’s future. More than 80 people died on April 4 this year when sarin gas projectiles were fired into Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the Idlib province of northwestern Syria.
Images of dead and dying victims, including young children, in the aftermath of the attack provoked global outrage and a US cruise missile strike on a regime air base.
The UN placed the death toll at 83 while the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was 87. Syria and its ally Russia had suggested that a rebel weapon may have detonated on the ground but the UN panel confirmed Western intelligence reports that blamed the regime.
“The panel is confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhun on 4 April 2017,” the report, seen by AFP, says. The report will increase pressure on Assad’s regime just as Washington, in the wake of battlefield victories against the ISIL group, renews calls for him to step down. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments to reporters came during a visit to Geneva in which he met UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, who is trying to convene a new round of peace talks next month.—Agencies