Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Watchdog confirms chemical weapon use in Syria's Douma

Watchdog confirms chemical weapon use in Syria's Douma Watchdog confirms chemical weapon use in Syria's Douma
Steven Clarke | 16 May, 2018, 17:37

"It does not include identifying who is responsible for alleged attacks".

An OPCW fact-finding mission determined that "chlorine was released from cylinders by mechanical impact in the Al Talil neighborhood of Saraqeb" on February 4, the statement said.

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

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. Attribution was part of the mandate of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism, set up by the UN Security Council, which expired in December 2017.

Attack: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, reported government airstrikes on rebel-held Saraqeb on February 4, adding 11 people had to be treated for breathing difficulties after the attack.

OPCW are now investigating another suspected chlorine attack that hit the town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, in April that killed at least 60 civilians. Only Syrian government forces are known to have helicopters.

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Following delays, the OPCW was allowed to access the Douma site where it gathered more than 100 environmental samples.

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

Russian Federation and the Syrian regime has refuted claims they carried out the attack, yet repeatedly obstructed and delayed access to the scene by the inspectors, raising suspicions they have tried to destroy evidence.

The Douma chemical attack in April prompted missile strikes by the United States, France and Britain against chemical weapons facilities in Syria.

The regime had agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2014, following global outrage over a sarin gas attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in August 2013 that killed hundreds in the worst attack of its kind for a quarter of a century. However, its mandate is only to verify whether chemical weapons have been used, not to establish responsibility.

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