When the dust settles, what do we know about the Syrian chemical weapons attack?
The Syrian government’s chemical weapons arsenal, destroyed by a U.S. airstrike last month, has been left in ruins, with hundreds of tons of chemicals missing from the city of Khan Sheikhoun.
But the international community remains divided over the veracity of the Syrian government claim, with some arguing it was a “false flag” operation orchestrated by the Trump administration.
A video posted on social media on Thursday appeared to show the remnants of a batch of chemical agents recovered from Khan Sheikhun, according to a source close to the Syrian opposition.
A U.N. investigation into the attack has concluded that Syrian government forces used the chemical weapons, which were manufactured by a German company, to kill more than 1,000 people.
On Friday, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 1,400 people had died in the attack, including civilians.
But experts have not yet confirmed the death toll.
Russia, China and the United States have all denied involvement in the chemical attack, while Iran, Syria and Hezbollah have denied the government’s claim.
In a statement, the Russian Defense Ministry said it was “not aware of any such incident.”
On Friday evening, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia has “strong information” that the attack was a false flag.
He added that he had asked his French counterpart Francois Hollande to provide him with a “vast amount of data” on the incident.
In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, Putin said the “most likely cause” for the chemical incident was the use of a missile system.
“We have evidence of an illegal use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, as we have evidence that the Syrian army was responsible for using the same missiles to carry out the attack on Khan Sheikhu,” Putin said.
The U.T.O. and other sources have also reported that at least 4,000 rockets were fired from Syria’s Latakia province on April 4.
A senior U.A.E. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Russia and the U,S.
and Iran had all been told to stop using chemical weapons and to stop “all operations aimed at the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal.”
The U-turn by the U and the allies has come amid mounting international pressure to get to the bottom of the Khan Sheikhou chemical weapons incident.
The Syrian Observatory said the government had not presented any evidence that it used chemical weapons.
The United States and Russia have both accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government of using chemical arms in an attack on Aleppo, the largest rebel-held city in Syria.
The Khan Sheikhouf incident comes as the United Nation is set to release its annual human rights report on Syria on Thursday.
The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Turkey have all said the Syrian president was responsible.