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Officials: Rocket trajectory links Syrian troops to sarin attack



Published: Thu, September 19, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Associated Press

BEIRUT

The trajectory of the rockets that delivered the nerve agent sarin in last month’s deadly attack is among the key evidence linking elite Syrian troops based in the mountains overlooking Damascus to the strike that killed hundreds of people, diplomats and human-rights officials said Wednesday.

That evidence, however, was dismissed by Syrian President Bashar Assad, who denied that his regime carried out the Aug. 21 attack outside Damascus.

In an interview with Fox News Channel broadcast Wednesday, Assad blamed terrorist groups for using chemical weapons and said Russia has evidence supporting his position.

“We have evidence that the terrorist group has used sarin gas,” Assad said, adding that the evidence had been turned over to Russia.

“Second, the Russian satellite, since the beginning of these allegations at the 21st of August — they said that they have information, through their satellite, that the rocket [was] launched from another area. So why ... ignore this point of view?”

The interview was conducted Tuesday in the Syrian capital of Damascus by former Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Fox News contributor, and Fox News Channel Senior Correspondent Greg Palkot.

The attack precipitated the crisis over Syria’s chemical weapons. The U.S. threatened a military strike against Syria, which led to a plan negotiated by Moscow and Washington under which the Assad regime is to abandon its chemical- weapons stockpile.

A U.N. report released Monday confirmed that chemical weapons were used in the attack but did not ascribe blame.

The United States, Britain and France cited evidence in the report to declare Assad’s government responsible. Russia called the report “one-sided” and says it has “serious reason to suggest that this was a provocation” by the rebels fighting the Assad regime in Syria’s civil war.

Assad agreed, saying the scenario of the attack depicted in the report was unrealistic.

“So, the whole story doesn’t even hold together,” Assad said. “It’s not realistic. So, no, we didn’t. In one word, we didn’t use any chemical weapons in Ghouta, because if you want to use it, you would harm your troops, you would have harmed the tens of thousands of civilians in Syria, in Damascus.”

The report, however, provided data that suggested the chemical-loaded rockets that hit two Damascus suburbs were fired from the northwest, indicating they came from nearby mountains where the Syrian military is known to have major bases.


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