Chlorine Used in February Attack in Syria, Finds OPCW

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In what is likely to be seen as a dry run for a more controversial report later this month, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found that the February attack on the neighbourhood of Saraqeb was caused by the dropping of two cylinders that had contained chlorine on to a field in the town.

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.

About 11 people were treated after the attack on February 4. for mild and moderate symptoms of toxic chemical exposure, including breathing difficulties, vomiting and unconsciousness, the report said.

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.

The samples tested positive for precursors needed to make the nerve agent sarin, he said.

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An alleged gas attack in Douma on April 7 was used as a pretext by the US, Britain and France to launch a coordinated missile attack against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government's capability to produce chemicals.

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. Those findings are expected by the end of the month. The FFM has previously confirmed with a "high degree of confidence" the use of chlorine, sulfur mustard, and sarin as weapons. It has not yet issued a report on that attack.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a "foul smell after regime helicopters struck several areas of the town in Idlib province, causing five civilians to suffer from suffocation". However, its mandate is only to verify whether chemical weapons have been used, not to establish responsibility.

To the OPCW, added that the mandate of MOFS is to establish the facts of use of chemical weapons or toxic chemicals and is not meant to establish responsibility for the alleged attack.

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