OPCW: 'toxic chemical' used in attack on Douma last April

Orient Net 2019-03-02 06:31:00

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Inspectors have concluded that a “toxic chemical” containing chlorine was used in an attack last April in the Syrian town of Douma, at the time held by opposition forces but besieged by pro-Assad militias, the global chemical weapons agency said on Friday (March 1).

The attack on April 7, 2018, killed dozens of civilians and prompted air strikes against the Assad regime by Britain, France and the United States.

During an investigation in mid-April, inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited two sites in Douma to interview witnesses and take samples, which have been analyzed in OPCW-affiliated national laboratories.

The investigation did not assign blame, but the information gathered provided “reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken place on 7 April 2018”.

“This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine,” the OPCW said in a statement.

Weaponizing chlorine is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention, ratified by Syria in 2013, and is prohibited under customary international humanitarian law.

The latest OPCW report “adds one more case to the scores of illegal chemical weapons attacks confirmed since 2013,” said Lou Charbonneau of the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

“It’s clear that the organization’s new unit for attributing blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria has its work cut out. Those responsible for the use of these banned weapons should be unmasked and held to account.”

The OPCW has documented systematic use of the banned nerve agent sarin and chlorine in Syria’s war, now nearing its eighth year.

From 2015 to 2017 a joint UN-OPCW team had been appointed to assign blame for chemical attacks in Syria. It found that Assad regime troops had used the nerve agent sarin and chlorine barrel bombs on several occasions, while ISIS militiamen were found to have used sulfur mustard.

Based on Reuters