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OPCW says chlorine was likely used in Syria's Idlib in February 2018

OPCW says chlorine was likely used in Syria's Idlib in February 2018”

A still image from a video said to be taken on August 1, 2016, shows a man breathing through a mask in what is said to be in Saraqeb, Syria.

"The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), confirmed in a report released yesterday that chlorine was likely used as a chemical weapon on 4 February 2018 in Saraqib, Idlib Governorate, Syrian Arab Republic", the press service said.

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 does not have the power to attribute responsibility for attacks, and the United Nations body that did have the power to attribute blame has been closed after Russian Federation used its veto to block the renewal of its mandate.

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.

The incident is by no means the worst chemical weapons attack during the seven-year civil war, but it led to 11 people being treated for breathing difficulties.

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied using chemical weapons and instead has blamed rebels for staging attacks to falsely implicate his forces in the atrocities.

OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said: "I strongly condemn the use of toxic chemicals as weapons by anyone, for any reason, and in any circumstances".

"Such acts contradict the unequivocal prohibition against chemical weapons". The team's conclusions were based on finding two cylinders that were determined as previously containing chlorine. However, its mandate is only to verify whether chemical weapons have been used, not to establish responsibility. That attack led to the U.S., France and Britain blaming the Syrian government and launching joint punitive airstrikes targeting suspected Syrian chemical weapons facilities on April 14. His regime denies the allegations.



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