France is making a major push to highlight for U.S. officials that the Syrian regime has been using Sarin gas as part of its battle against rebels seeking the overthrow of the Bashar al-Assad regime. English-language French news outlets are reporting that Paris has cleaned out the cupboard:
France has sent the United States “all the information it has” on what it has billed as proof that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday. The move follows a request on Wednesday from US Secretary of State John Kerry amid mounting pressure for the United States administration to act in response to the evidence of chemical weapons use.
The news comes in the aftermath of accusations by Syrian rebels that the Syrian army used chemical weapons against a Palestinian refugee camp in recent days, killing 22. The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces – Syria’s opposition umbrella group – issued a press release on the incident:
“Assad’s forces are using chemical and toxic gas bombs to shell the Yarmouk Palestinian Camp…The strategic, systematic use of chemical weapons in order to achieve military gains only proves the desperate state that Assad’s regime has reached.”
Yarmouk is the largest Palestinian camp anywhere in the region, and one of only two with more than 100,000 residents (the other is Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip). It is also relatively affluent. The BBC once described it as “a residential area with beauty salons and internet cafes” with “no tents or slums in sight.”