Chlorine gas used in Syria as weapon, OPCW confirms

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The Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons has said that it is highly probable the banned Chlorine gas was used as a weapon at the northern Syrian town of Saraqeb in February.

The organisation, however, did not say who was behind the attack, as finding that out was not in its mandate.

The gas was “released from cylinders”, OPCW said, as revealed from an analysis of two cylinders in the Ali Talil neighbourhood of Saraqeb.

Besides this, it relied on witness testimony, environmental samples that demonstrated the unusual presence of chlorine in the local environment, and evidence from the medical facilities where patients showed symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine on the day.

It said that there was “unusual presence of chlorine in the local environment.”

“I strongly condemn the continued use of toxic chemicals as weapons by anyone, for any reason, and in any circumstances. Such acts contradict the unequivocal prohibition against chemical weapons enshrined in the Chemical Weapons Convention,” said OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu.

The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) was set up in 2014 with an on-going mandate “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic”.

While the job of determining the perpetrator was of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism, its mandate got expired in November 2017, as the UN Security Council failed to extend it.

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