Middle East

France has 'information' Assad regime using chemical weapons: Hollande

French President Francois Hollande (L) and Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius walk on the tarmac to greet the former French hostages and journalists at the military airbase in Villacoulbay, near Paris, April 20, 2014. Four French journalists who were held captive in Syria for more than 10 months arrived back in France on Sunday, a day after being found blindfolded and with hands bound at the Turkish border. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

PARIS: France has "information" but no firm proof that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime is still using chemical weapons, President Francois Hollande said Sunday.

"We have a few elements of information but I do not have the proof," Hollande said in a radio interview after he was asked about reports that Assad was currently using chemical weapons.

"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.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the same radio station there were "indications, which have yet to be verified, that there have been recent chemical attacks."

He said they were "much less significant than those in Damascus a few months ago but very deadly", and had taken place in the northwest of the country, near the Lebanese border.

Under the terms of the U.S.-Russia brokered deal reached last year, Syria has until the end of June to destroy its chemical weapons if it wants to ward off the threat of U.S. airstrikes.

The agreement was reached after deadly chemical attacks outside Damascus last August that the West blamed on Assad's regime.

Last week the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the global chemical watchdog, said Syria had surrendered almost two-thirds of its chemical weapons.





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