EU Anti-Syria Sanctions Over Alleged Chemical Attacks 'Premature' Without Proof

© REUTERS / Ammar AbdullahCivil defense members inspect the damage at a site hit by airstrikes on Tuesday, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 5, 2017
Civil defense members inspect the damage at a site hit by airstrikes on Tuesday, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 5, 2017 - Sputnik International
Sanctions imposed by the European Union on Syria over alleged chemical weapon attacks by Damascus are ill-timed as investigators have yet to find evidence determining those responsible for April's Idlib attack, Gerard Bapt, a member of the French Socialist Party, told Sputnik on Wednesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Monday, the Council of the European Union added 16 persons, including eight Syrian senior military officials and eight scientists, to the list of those targeted by EU sanctions against Damascus "for their role in the development and use of chemical weapons against the civilian population."

"It is premature to target people on a chemical bombing case unless there is evidence, but does it exist? A serious investigation must be carried out on the ground, with objective elements and testimonies," Bapt, who is an honorary deputy of the National Assembly, said.

The French politician urged the European Union to improve relations with Syria while respecting the country’s integrity.

"European countries had already maintained their embassies in Syria. The EU must decide on [how to proceed with] the embargo, which penalizes the Syrian people. This should advance relations in the direction of alleviation of suffering, on which all parties should cooperate, respecting the integrity of the Syrian state," Bapt argued.

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On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces supported by the United States blamed the Syrian government for an alleged chemical weapon attack in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s Idlib province. Reacting to the incident, Washington, which had not presented any proof of the chemical weapons use by Damascus, launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on the Syrian governmental military airfield in Ash Sha’irat on April 6.

On June 20, the OPCW said that its fact-finding mission confirmed that man-made chemical sarin, a gas used as a chemical weapon, was used in Khan Shaikhoun in Idlib in early April, but did not determine who was responsible. None of the experts of the OPCW mission and the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism visited the place of the incident.

Earlier, Syrian President Bashar Assad said that sanctions are even more harmful than terrorism as they damaged the country more.

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