OPCW finds "likely use of chlorine as chemical weapon" in Saraqib, Syria

Lester Mason
May 16, 2018

Aspects of the evidence gathered at Saraqeb and Douma are very similar, weapons experts said.

In its report released Wednesday OPCW said "that chlorine was released from cylinders" in the Ali Talil neighborhood of Saraqeb in the northern province of Idlib. The document was also submitted to the Security Council through the United Nations secretary-general.

Before the panel's mandate ran out late previous year, it also found the Syrian military to blame for at least three chemical attacks in villages in 2014 and 2015.

The team's conclusions were based on finding two cylinders "which were determined as previously containing chlorine", the watchdog said in a statement.

Environmental samples also "demonstrated the unusual presence of chlorine in the local environment", said the organisation, based in The Hague.

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert reported about the attack with the use of chlorine gas near the city of Saraqib on February 6.

In October, a joint OPCW-UN panel found the Syrian air force was behind a sarin gas attack on the then opposition-held village of Khan Sheikhun in April 2017 that left scores dead.

The Syrian government produced a three-page denial of responsibility, and failed to answer a further set of OPCW questions sent on 14 March. "Such acts contradict the unequivocal prohibition against chemical weapons enshrined in the Chemical Weapons Convention".

The OPCW added that "the FFM's mandate is to determine whether chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons have been used in Syria".

Medics have claimed the Douma attack on 7 April led to 40 deaths.

The team exhumed bodies and gathered more than 100 environmental samples now being analysed in different OPCW-designated labs.

Banned chlorine munitions were likely dropped on a Syrian neighborhood in February, an worldwide body on chemical weapons said on Wednesday, after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of the toxic chemical.

The mechanism was disbanded in November following a Russian veto at the U.N. Security Council, a move which ratcheted up tension between Moscow and Western powers over chemical weapons use in Syria.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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