Chlorine Used in February Attack in Syria, Finds OPCW

Postado Mai 16, 2018

"The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), confirmed in a report released yesterday that chlorine was likely used as a chemical weapon on 4 February 2018 in Saraqib, Idlib Governorate, Syrian Arab Republic", the press service said. Aspects of the evidence gathered at Saraqeb and Douma are very similar, weapons experts said. The document was also submitted to the Security Council through the United Nations secretary-general.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons released details of a report into the chlorine use, but did not say which side in the fighting used it.

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.

The OPCW said its team had interviewed witnesses, and found that a "number of patients at medical facilities shortly after the incident showed signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine".

The incident is by no means the worst chemical weapons attack during the seven-year civil war, but it led to 11 people being treated for breathing difficulties.

Medics and activists said at the time that chlorine-filled bombs had been dropped by a government helicopter. Only Syrian government forces are known to have helicopters.

The mission also is investigating allegations that poison gas was used in Douma, near the capital Damascus, in a deadly April 7 attack.

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.

The team exhumed bodies as well as gathering over 100 environmental samples which are being analyzed in different OPCW-designated labs.

Last month, Russian Federation held a press conference close to the OPCW headquarters in The Hague, at which it produced witnesses that claimed no chemical weapons attack had occurred, and that any choking had been due to dust inhalation. The scale of the attack prompted the UK, France and the USA to mount cruise missile strikes on what it said were Syrian government chemical weapons sites. The French government is due to hold a ministerial-level conference in Paris on Friday to build an alliance of countries determined to reconstruct an accountability mechanism for chemical weapons use, if necessary outside the confines of the UN.