Syria: Chemical weapons watchdog confirms chlorine gas attack in Saraqeb

A global arms watchdog confirmed that chlorine was

Syria: Chemical weapons watchdog confirms chlorine gas attack in Saraqeb

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 OPCW says its fact-finding mission probing alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria "determined that chlorine was released from cylinders by mechanical impact in the Al Talil neighbourhood of Saraqib".

Eleven people had to be treated for breathing difficulties on February 4 after Syrian regime raids on 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 is investigating various reports of chemical attacks, including one on Duma in East Ghouta on April 7, which activists claim killed dozens of people.

The OPCW has said all of Syria's declared toxic arms stock has since been destroyed, but has warned repeatedly about gaps in the Syrian regime's declaration.

Syria's Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Hussam Edin Aala rejected the accusation, saying, "Syria can not possibly be using chemical weapons because it very simply has none in its possession". "Attribution was part of the mandate of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism, set up by the UN Security Council, which expired in November 2017", the organization said. Russian Federation said the whole attack was faked on video footage by United Kingdom intelligence-funded Syrians. However, its mandate is only to verify whether chemical weapons have been used, not to establish responsibility.

The Syrian government has been accused multiple times of carrying out chemical weapons attacks on civilians since the civil war began in 2011.

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