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

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OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu resolutely denounced the use of toxic substances as weapons by anyone for any purposes and under any circumstances, saying that such actions directly contradict the strict ban for the use of poisonous substances enshrined in the Chemical Weapons Convention.

While the OPCW didn't lay the blame with any one party, it said in a report released Tuesday that interviews with witnesses, the collection of environmental samples and the symptoms that patients exhibited in the aftermath allowed it to conclude that chlorine was dropped from two cylinders on the Saraqib area on February 4, 2018.

About 11 people were treated after the attack on February 4. for mild and moderate symptoms of toxic chemical exposure, including breathing difficulties, vomiting and unconsciousness, the report said.

"The FFM determined that chlorine was released from cylinders by mechanical impact in the Al Talil neighbourhood of Saraqib".

About the attack with the use of chlorine gas near the city of Saraqib announced on 6 February, the head of the press service of the U.S. Department of state Heather Nauert. Russia, which supports Assad in the Syrian conflict, chemical attack denies and considers it a production of the West to justify a military strike on Syria.

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A joint OPCW-U.N. mechanism for Syria has previously concluded the Syrian government has used both sarin nerve agent and chlorine, killing and injuring hundreds of civilians.

The FFM was set up in 2014 with an on-going mandate to determine whether chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons have been used in Syria.

The OPCW is not mandated to apportion blame for the attack. Rebels were found to have used sulfur mustard once on a small scale.

Douma probe ongoing: Another OPCW investigative team is now assessing evidence from the Syrian town of Douma to determine whether an April 7 attack that left 40 dead used chlorine and sarin gas. It has not yet issued a report on that attack.

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

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