Sarin, chlorine likely used in Syria in March 2017 attacks, watchdog says

Lester Mason
June 14, 2018

Chemical weapons such as chlorine and the banned nerve agent sarin gas were likely used in an attack in northern Syria in 2017, an worldwide chemical weapons watchdog confirmed Wednesday.

It is the latest in a series of reports from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirming the use of toxic agents in the country's civil war.

The report from the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission confirmed that sarin gas was "very likely used in the south of Ltamenah, Syrian Arab Republic, on 24 March 2017".

In a statement, the body said sarin was "very likely" used on 24 March 2017 in southern Ltamenah, in the Hama governate.

It said the conclusions from its fact-finding mission were based on witness testimonies, epidemiological analysis and environmental samples.

The claimed use of chemical weapons in Syria has become one of the main topics of the global agenda within the last several years after numerous accusations by the Syrian opposition, as well as Western countries, against Syrian government forces. "The first attack in 2018 occurred in the area between Douma and Harasta in Damascus Ghouta on January 13, 2018, the second attack took place on January 22, 2018, in the north-western area of Douma, and the third attack took place on February 1, 2018 in Douma as well", the report indicated, referring to a city slightly north of Damascus. A joint United Nations-OPCW team that was tasked with determining blame for such attacks no longer exists after Russian Federation, a close ally of the Syrian government, past year vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to extend its mandate. That attack was blamed by the now-defunct joint UN-OPCW investigative team on Syrian government forces.

Repeated chemical attacks within Syria in such a short space of time only serve to underline the grave threat to the integrity of the Chemical Weapons Convention. It said a bomb dropped by a helicopter hit the entrance of the building, and that information collected by the hospital's medical staff suggested that chemical weapons were used.

The OPCW is also investigating a suspected chemical attack on 7 April this year in the Douma enclave near Damascus, which prompted missile strikes by the United States, France and Britain.

Under current rules, the OPCW can only tell if a chemical attack has taken place and not speculate on who caused it.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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