OPCW Fact-Finding Mission Confirms Likely Use of Chlorine in Saraqib, Syria

Wednesday, 16 May, 2018

OPCW are now investigating another suspected chlorine attack that hit the town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, in April that killed at least 60 civilians.

"Such acts contradict the unequivocal prohibition against chemical weapons".

In a statement released Wednesday, the global chemical weapons watchdog said it determined chlorine was "released from cylinders by mechanical impact" on neighborhoods in Saraqib during the February 4 attack.

The FFM's report on the Saraqib incident has been shared with States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Eleven people had to be treated for breathing difficulties on February 4 after Syrian government raids on the town of Saraqeb, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at the time. "Among other things, these conclusions are based on the presence of two cylinders, in which, as stated, previously contained chlorine; eyewitness testimony; samples taken from the environment and indicating the presence of chlorine, which is unusual for the surrounding area; data on patients referred to medical institutions for help after the incident, which had the signs and symptoms of exposure to chlorine and other toxic chemicals", said Wednesday the press service of the OPCW.

OPCW inspectors collecting samples in Douma, the scene of the chemical attack.

A joint OPCW-United Nations mechanism for Syria has previously concluded that the Syrian regime has used both sarin nerve agent and chlorine, killing and injuring hundreds of civilians.

The OPCW's fact-finding mission was set up in 2014 to investigate repeated allegations of chemical weapons use in the Syrian conflict. Rebels were found to have used sulphur mustard once on a small scale. It has not yet issued a report on that attack.

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

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.

But the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) did not, in line with its mandate, say who was responsible for using the banned gas on February 4.