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Assad forces behind deadly Sarin attack

Media captionAbo Rabeea says he is still suffering from the suspected chemical weapons strike in Khan Sheikhoun

Syria’s government was responsible for a deadly chemical attack on a rebel-held town in the north-west of the country on 4 April, a UN report says.

The authors say they are “confident” Damascus used Sarin nerve agent in Khan Sheikhoun, killing more than 80 people.

“Today’s report confirms what we have long known to be true,” said the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ally Russia have repeatedly said the incident was fabricated.

Syria’s opposition and Western powers have said it was a Syrian government air strike on the area.

But Damascus and Moscow say an air strike hit a rebel depot full of chemical munitions.

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The report findings were issued by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the UN’s Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM).

“The panel is confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of Sarin at Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April 2017,” stated the report, the AFP news agency reports.

Meanwhile, Ms Haley said in a statement: ‎”Time and again, we see independent confirmation of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime. And in spite of these independent reports, we still see some countries trying to protect the regime. That must end now.

“Ignoring the overwhelming amount of evidence in this case shows a purposeful disregard for widely agreed international norms.

“The (UN) Security Council must send a clear message that the use of chemical weapons by anyone will not be tolerated, and must fully support the work of the impartial investigators. Countries that fail to do so are no better than the dictators or terrorists who use these terrible weapons.”

Syria and Russia are yet to make public comments on the issue.

On Tuesday, Russia vetoed a resolution extending the JIM’s mandate – the only official mission investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria.