Chlorine Used in February Attack in Syria, Finds OPCW

A global arms watchdog confirmed that chlorine was

Banned chlorine munitions were likely dropped on a Syrian neighborhood in February, an global body on chemical weapons said on Wednesday, after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of the toxic chemical. The OPCW does not have the document establishes who is responsible for the use of banned chemical weapons, writes Reuters.

While the OPCW didn't lay the blame with any one party, it said in a report released Tuesday that interviews with witnesses, the collection of environmental samples and the symptoms that patients exhibited in the aftermath allowed it to conclude that chlorine was dropped from two cylinders on the Saraqib area on February 4, 2018. Western observers said the use of helicopters in the attack suggested Syrian government involvement since the opposition did not have access to helicopters.

In a brief statement Ahmet Üzümcü, the head of OPCW, said: "I strongly condemn the use of toxic chemicals as weapons by anyone, for any reason, and in any circumstances".

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

The OPCW said its team based its findings on evidence including "the presence of two cylinders, which were determined as previously containing chlorine; witness testimony; environmental samples that demonstrated the unusual presence of chlorine in the local environment; and the number of patients at medical facilities shortly after the incident who showed signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine and other toxic chemicals". The province is also home to al-Qaida-linked militants.

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

Reuters reported in January that tests found "markers" in samples taken at three attack sites between 2013 and 2017 from chemicals from the Syrian government stockpile.

Damascus joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the use or production of toxic arms, in 2013 under a deal brokered by the United States and Russian Federation.

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