Assad behind sarin massacre that led to Trump's airstrike, U.N. says

The report, a joint investigation by the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, confirmed allegations by Syria’s opposition and Western powers that Syrian government forces were behind the massacre on April 4.
October 27, 2017, 7:02am

The Syrian regime carried out a deadly sarin gas attack that killed 87 people in the town of Khan Sheikhoun earlier this year, the U.N. said Thursday.

The report, a joint investigation by the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, confirmed allegations by opposition forces and Western powers that the Syrian government was behind the massacre on April 4.

Syria and Russia had claimed the sarin was released when an airstrike hit a rebel stockpile of banned chemicals.

Images of the atrocity, whose victims included young children, fueled international outrage and prompted threats from U.S. President Donald Trump, who said the attack had crossed “many, many red lines, beyond a red line.”

In response, the U.S. carried out strikes on a Syrian airbase from which it said the chemical attack was launched.

The release of the report prompted tough talk from U.S. officials Thursday, with Nikki Haley, Washington’s ambassador to the U.N., issuing an ultimatum to Syria’s backers.

“Time and again, we see independent confirmation of chemical weapons use by the [Bashar] Assad regime,” she said. “And in spite of these independent reports, we still see some countries trying to protect the regime. That must end now.”

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday Assad could not be part of Syria’s future, contrasting with earlier statements from Washington indicating that regime change was not a priority.

“We do not believe there is a future for the Assad regime, the Assad family,” Tillerson said. “The reign of the Assad family is coming to an end, and the only issue is how should that be brought about.”

He said he hoped a way to replace Assad would come out of a new round of U.N.-sponsored peace talks between the regime and opposition scheduled to start in Geneva on Nov. 28.