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International Confirmation: Sarin Used in Syria, Ankara Makes Hints of New Operation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An unconscious Syrian child receives treatment at a hospital in Khan Sheikhoun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, following a toxic gas attack, on April 4, 2017. OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP

Moscow, Beirut, Ankara- The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed on Friday that banned Sarin gas was used in April’s chemical attack that killed dozens of people in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province.

The Hague-based watchdog said “the perpetrators of this horrific attack must be held accountable for their crimes,” but the investigation fell short to blame any party for the attack.

The OPCW report was sent to the UN Security Council for a joint investigation in order to find the suspects. A council meeting on July 5 is expected to discuss the findings.

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley said in a statement: “Now that we know the undeniable truth, we look forward to an independent investigation to confirm exactly who was responsible for these brutal attacks so we can find justice for the victims.”

For his part, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: “The exact responsibility for dropping the Sarin will now go to a joint investigative mechanism to be confirmed but I’ve got absolutely no doubt that the finger points at the Assad regime.”

However, the Russian Foreign Minister doubted the OPCW report, and said its “conclusions are still based on very doubtful data obtained from the same opposition and the same notorious NGOs of the White Helmets type, and not on the site of the tragedy.”

Meanwhile, Brett McGurk, the US special envoy to the coalition against ISIS, was holding talks in Ankara on Friday amid reports that Turkey could launch the “Euphrates Sabre” operation in the countryside of Aleppo, which means that Ankara plans to tighten the noose on the Kurdish-controlled city of Afrin.

McGurk’s visit also coincided with a phone call held between US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the latest developments in Syria, the war on ISIS and the US decision to arm the Syrian Democratic Forces that include fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Separately, sources said that head of the Syrian regime Bashar Assad promoted his brother Maher to Brigadier General, with reports predicting that the latter would play a leading role in the “Revolutionary Guards.”