The Latest: Russia says OPCW doesn't prove Assad role

AP News
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Posted: Jun 30, 2017 6:48 AM
The Latest: Russia says OPCW doesn't prove Assad role

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Latest on report confirming that sarin nerve gas used in Syria (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the report by an international chemical weapons watchdog that confirmed a chemical attack in Syria doesn't back claims by the U.S. and its allies that the substance was dropped from aircraft.

President Bashar Assad and his ally Russia have denied the government's role in the April 4 attack, in which more than 90 people died.

Speaking Thursday at a conference in Moscow, said: "The report released by the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) yesterday said they were not sure that the sarin found there had been airdropped in bombs. They don't know how the sarin ended up there, yet tensions have been escalating for all these months."

The U.S. State Department has reacted to the OPCW report saying its findings "reflect a despicable and highly dangerous record of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime."

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10:30 a.m.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is urging the international community to work together to bring to justice those responsible for a deadly April 4 nerve gas attack in Syria.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed Friday that its investigation had established that sarin was used as a weapon in the northern town of Khan Sheikhoun, where more than 90 people were killed.

Johnson says, "This confirmation cannot be ignored."

While the OPCW report did not apportion blame, Johnson says that "the U.K.'s own assessment is that the Assad regime almost certainly carried out this abominable attack."

He adds, "I urge our international partners to unite behind the need to hold those responsible for this atrocity to account."

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9:55 a.m.

An investigation by the international chemical weapons watchdog confirmed Friday that sarin nerve gas was used in a deadly April 4 attack on a Syrian town, the latest confirmation of chemical weapons use in Syria's civil war.

The attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Syria's Idlib province left more than 90 people dead, including women and children, and sparked outrage around the world as photos and video of the aftermath, including quivering children dying on camera, were widely broadcast.

"I strongly condemn this atrocity, which wholly contradicts the norms enshrined in the Chemical Weapons Convention," Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said in a statement. "The perpetrators of this horrific attack must be held accountable for their crimes."

The investigation did not apportion blame. Its findings will be used by a joint United Nations-OPCW investigation team to assess who was responsible.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement issued Thursday night after the report was circulated to OPCW member states that "The facts reflect a despicable and highly dangerous record of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime."