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France says 'at least 281' killed in Syria chemical attack

File - French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Driant, lef, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, center, and French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, right, pose prior to a meeting at Matignon in Paris, Monday Sept. 2, 2013.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)

PARIS: The August 21 chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb was carried out by President Bashar al-Assad's regime and killed at least 281 people, according to French intelligence documents made public on Monday.

A source said the toll figured in a document given by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to lawmakers during a meeting on the Syrian crisis, adding that the attack was "massive."

The figure was markedly lower than that provided by Washington, which spoke of at least 1,400 deaths. The United States is trying to cobble together a coalition to launch strikes on Syria.

Assad's government has denied responsibility, blaming it on opposition fighters who it says are armed by the West.

Ayrault met lawmakers to provide what it said was clear evidence that the Damascus regime was behind the attack.

 

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