Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Chlorine likely used in Syria attack: arms watchdog

Chlorine likely used in Syria attack: arms watchdog

A global arms watchdog on Wednesday confirmed that chlorine was "likely used as a chemical weapon" in a February attack on the Syrian town of Saraqeb.

"We heard people crying for help somewhere on the road and others on the roof of a house", a volunteer with the White Helmets rescue group told the aid organization.

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

Investigators had "determined that chlorine was released from cylinders" in the Ali Talil neighborhood of Saraqeb in the northern province of Idlib.

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.

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The conclusions on the Saraqib attack are based on the presence of two cylinders, which were determined as previously containing chlorine, witness testimony and environmental samples confirming "the unusual presence of chlorine", it said.

The move averted threatened United States air strikes by the previous USA administration after about 1,000 people died in an August 2013 sarin gas attack.

The lab tests linked Ghouta and two other nerve agent attack sites, in the towns of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib governorate on April 4, 2017 and Khan al-Assal, Aleppo, in March 2013, to the stockpile handed over to the agency for destruction in 2014.

An OPCW fact-finding team is also now awaiting the results of its hard mission to the Syrian town of Douma, after medics and rescuers said 40 people died in a chlorine and sarin attack on April 7. 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 organization has not yet issued a report on that attack.

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. Rebels also have been accused of using poison gas.

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