- Rory O'Keeffe
Assad 'used gas against Syrian civilians' - UN
The United Nations’ Joint Investigative Mechanism reports that Bashar al Assad launched sarin gas projectiles at Khan Sheikun, a rebel-held town in Idlib Province, Syria.
More than 87 people were killed in the gas attack that Assad said never happened (that no gas at all was released and the deaths were fake) and Russia said was caused by an Assad strike hitting a chemical weapons factory, and then within hours claimed was actually deliberately staged by rebel forces to discredit Assad.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: ‘We do not believe there is a future for the Assad regime, the Assad family. I think I’ve said it on a number of occasions. The reign of the Assad family is coming to an end, and the only issue is how should that be brought about.’
Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, speaking on behalf of a state which is fighting for Assad in the Syrian civil war, and has used its UN veto nine times in the last six years to defend him from UN ‘interference’, said: ‘I think we should not pre-empt any future for anybody.’
A new round of peace talks are scheduled to begin on 28 November, between Assad and representatives of the coalition which opposes him. But Assad believes he can ‘win’ the war, and will not agree to step down, while the rebels will only accept a deal which sees Assad lose power.
Equally, neither side can control the wide variety of militia organisations currently active in Syria