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Turkey says tests confirm nerve agent sarin used in Syrian attack

By
Mike Bambach
A crater is seen at the site of an airstrike on April 5 after what was described as a sarin gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Syria, was purportedly launched by government forces. Photo by Omar Haj Kadour/UPI
A crater is seen at the site of an airstrike on April 5 after what was described as a sarin gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Syria, was purportedly launched by government forces. Photo by Omar Haj Kadour/UPI | License Photo

April 11 (UPI) -- Turkey's health minister cited "concrete evidence" on Tuesday in saying the banned nerve agent sarin was indeed used in an attack on Syrian rebels and civilians last week -- a strike that prompted a fierce military response from the United States.

Minister Recep Akdag said traces of the poison were detected in blood and urine samples taken from wounded victims in the northern rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun on April 4.

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Ankara's declaration Tuesday echoed what the United States and other nations had already suspected.

At least 89 people were killed and hundreds were injured by the chemical attack, which U.S. officials believe was ordered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The event led President Donald Trump to order retaliatory air strikes two days later against the airfield where Assad's attack was launched.

Sarin, considered a weapon of mass destruction (WMD), is banned by international law.

The United States, Britain and France are among the nations accusing Bashar al-Assad's regime of gassing civilians.

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Syria has denied using chemical weapons. Russia, Assad's principal ally, has said the air raids targeted a rebel warehouse that contained chemical weapons that then leaked out to the surrounding area.

The White House also accused Russia of engaging in a cover-up of the the Syrian government's role in the deadly gas attack.

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