Hollande: France has "information" that Syrian regime is still using chemical weapons
France has information but no solid proof that the Syrian government is still using chemical weapons, President Francois Hollande said Sunday. (AFP/File)
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France has information but no solid proof that the Syrian government is still using chemical weapons, President Francois Hollande said Sunday.
"We have a few elements of information but I do not have the proof," the French president said in a radio interview after he was asked about reports coming out of Syria that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is still using chemical weapons, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
"What I do know is what we have seen from this regime is the horrific methods it is capable of using and the rejection of any political transition," he told the Europe 1 radio station, according to AFP.
Also speaking out on the matter, foreign minister Laurent Fabius told the radio station that France had recieved "indications, which have yet to be verified, that there have been recent chemical attacks."
Fabius noted that the latest indications are "much less significant than those in Damascus a few months ago but very deadly", and had taken place near Syria's border with Lebanon, in the northwest of the war-torn country.
Syria has until June to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal under the guidelines of a U.S.-Russia brokered deal that was reached last year. If Damascus fails to comply, it may face strict penalties and the threat of international and U.S. airstrikes, according to AFP.
The chemical weapons agreement came about last year after a deadly chemical weapons attack on a suburb of Damascus killed up to 1,400 people. The West blamed the attack on Assad's regime, as it was known to have used chemical weapons against civilians in the conflict previously.
Also on Sunday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the global chemical watchdog overseeing the removal and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, said that Damascus has so far surrendered 80 percent of its chemical weapons, according to Reuters.