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France says examining 14 cases of chemical weapons use in Syria

Source: Reuters - Tue, 13 May 2014 17:46 GMT
Author: Reuters
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WASHINGTON, May 13 (Reuters) - France said on Tuesday it was examining evidence that Syria's government had used chemical weapons in 14 incidents in recent months and expressed concern that President Bashar al-Assad still has the ability to produce toxic weapons despite international efforts to dismantle Syria's chemical arsenal.

"We have at least 14 indications that show us that in the past recent weeks again chemical weapons in a smaller scale have been used, in particular chlorine," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told a news conference speaking through an interpreter. "Right now we are examining the samples that were taken," he added.

Fabius said the Assad government had handed over 92 percent of its chemical weapons stockpile under an international agreement being overseen by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

But he said the recent chemical weapons reports involving chlorine showed the Assad government still had the ability to produce chemical weapons.

"What it shows is that (the) Bashar al-Assad regime in spite of its commitment continues to be able to produce chemical weapons and to use them," he said.

The watchdog Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is currently considering launching a fact-finding mission on its own to investigate the reports of chlorine gas attacks, sources told Reuters last month.

Syria has vowed to hand over or destroy its entire arsenal although it still has roughly 7.5 percent of the chemicals it declared to the OPCW and has not yet destroyed all of a dozen production and storage facilities. (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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