France tests Syrian samples for suspected chemical weapon elements
Reuters in Paris
France is testing samples of suspected chemical weapon elements used against Syrian rebel fighters and smuggled out by reporters from Le Monde newspaper and will divulge the results in the next few days, a senior French official says.
The official said on Monday that Paris recently conducted its own tests on other samples it had obtained that had indicated the use of battlefield gas.
"Samples were handed to our intelligence services by the Le Monde journalists," the senior official said. "Tests will be done on these samples and the results made known in the coming days."
The newspaper said on its website on Monday that one of its photographers had suffered blurred vision and respiratory difficulties for four days after an attack on April 13 on the Jobar front, inside central Damascus.
President Bashar al-Assad's government and the rebels have accused each other of using chemical weapons. United Nations investigators have been ready for weeks, but diplomatic wrangling and safety concerns have delayed their entry into Syria.
Undercover in and around Damascus area for two months alongside Syrian rebels, a Le Monde reporter and photographer said they witnessed battlefield chemical attacks.
The French official said the United States, France and Russia had agreed that any use of chemical weapons would be a game changer.