Days after French leader Emmanuel Macron announced in no uncertain terms that French authorities believed the Syrian regime had used chlorine as a weapon on its own citizens last weekend, the French Foreign Ministry has declassified a national intelligence report into the suspected chemical attack in Douma.
It is the first time French authorities have publicly revealed the information on which they have based its claims.
The report states that experts analyzed symptoms identifiable in the images and videos from the Douma attack before coming to their conclusions. It also says witness testimony was taking into consideration, the Foreign Ministry said, though the report states it did not have access to samples from the ground.
The report, which the French Foreign Ministry says was based on technical analyses of open source information and French intelligence, states that two new cases of deployment of toxic nerve agents were “spontaneously reported by civil society and local and international media” from late afternoon on April 7.
“Non-governmental medical organizations active in Ghouta (the Syrian American Medical Society and the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations), whose information is generally reliable, publicly stated that strikes had targeted in particular local medical infrastructure on 6 and 7 April.A massive influx of patients in health centers in Eastern Ghouta (at the very least 100 people) presenting symptoms consistent with exposure to a chemical agent was observed and documented during the early evening. In total, several dozens of people, more than forty according to several sources, are thought to have died from exposure to a chemical substance.”
The report states that no deaths from “mechanical injuries” were visible.
“All of these symptoms are characteristic of a chemical weapons attack, particularly choking agents and organophosphorus agents or hydrocyanic acid. Furthermore, the apparent use of bronchodilators by the medical services observed in videos reinforces the hypothesis of intoxication by choking agents,” the report states.