Syria - Statement by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (20.04.18)


At this time, OPCW investigators still have not had access to the site of the chemical weapons attack in Douma. If Russia and Syria finally keep their commitments, it will have taken them at least two weeks to do so. The OPCW team’s mission is to establish whether a chemical attack actually did take place and the type of chemical agent used.

This obstructionism is obviously undermining the caliber of the investigation. It is most likely aimed at removing evidence and other material elements linked to the chemical attack on the very site where it took place. Full, immediate, and unhindered access must therefore be granted to the OPCW team, as we have always demanded.

Over the past several days, Russia has been issuing contradictory official statements on the chemical attack in Douma. One day, it didn’t take place; the next day, it was carried out by armed groups; the day after that, it was Western manipulation. There’s no concern for consistency or truth, because it’s all about sowing doubt and confusion. Russia is now spreading videos featuring children, while the attacks took the lives of more than 45 people and left a large number of others injured.

As I have repeated a number of times:

  • France has gathered numerous authenticated witness accounts of the chemical attacks in Douma on April 7;
  • Medical NGOs found evidence of chemical attacks on the victims;
  • Numerous photographs and videos that are consistent with one another have been authenticated by our experts;
  • The symptoms of more than 500 patients who turned up at treatment facilities on Saturday definitely corresponded to the effects of gas. The WHO itself noted this and our laboratories confirmed the chemical attack.

As for responsibility, we have received confirmation that Syrian officers coordinated these attacks to accelerate their takeover of the sector. Our national assessment, consisting of technical analyses of open-source information and declassified intelligence obtained by French services, can be consulted online at