Sarin gas was used in an­other Syria at­tack this year, says chem­i­cal weapons watch­dog

The chem­i­cal weapons watch­dog OPCW said sarin was used in an at­tack on a north­ern Syr­ian town five days before the banned nerve agent killed dozens in Khan Sheikhoun, prompt­ing global out­rage

The Daily News Egypt - - International -

DW—An in­quiry by the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons (OPCW) has found that sarin nerve agent was used in an airstrike on the north­ern Syr­ian town of Latam­neh on March 30 that in­jured more than 50 peo­ple,who suf­fered nau­sea, foam­ing at the mouth, and mus­cle spasms.

“Anal­y­sis of sam­ples col­lected [by the OPCW]... re­lates to an in­ci­dent that took place again in the north­ern part of Syria on the 30th of March this year,” OPCW Chief Ah­met Uzumcu said. “The re­sults prove the ex­is­tence of sarin.”

Uzumcu said the OPCW’s factfind­ing mis­sion had re­trieved soil sam­ples, cloth­ing and metal parts, which were sent for test­ing.

The lat­est find­ing proves wrong ear­lier claims that the Khan Sheikhoun at­tack on April 4 was the first use of the banned nerve agent since the dead­lyAu­gust 2013 at­tack in and around Da­m­as­cus that killed hun­dreds of peo­ple.

At least 87 peo­ple in­clud­ing 30 chil­dren died in the at­tack on Khan Sheikhoun, in the op­po­si­tion-held Idlib prov­ince. The at­tack caused global out­rage and prompted the United States to launch mis­siles on a Syr­ian air­base.

Syr­ian President Bashar al-As­sad’s regime has de­nied us­ing chem­i­cal weapons in the 6-year civil war and claims it no longer pos­sesses chem­i­cal arse­nal in com­pli­ance with a 2013 agree­ment bro­kered by Rus­sia and the United States.

‘Trou­bling to say the least’

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil met be­hind closed doors in New York on Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss the use of chem­i­cal weapons in Syria and on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the Joint In­ves­tiga­tive Mech­a­nism (JIM), a joint United Nations and OPCW panel set up to iden­tify per­pe­tra­tors of such at­tacks.

French Am­bas­sador Fran­cois De­lat­tre said the coun­cil was await­ing de­tails of the Latam­neh at­tack but said the new in­for­ma­tion was “very trou­bling to say the least.”

The JIM is due to sub­mit its re­port on the Khan Sheikhun at­tack later this month.

The JIM’s man­date is com­ing up for re­newal in mid-Novem­ber. But there are fears that Syr­ian gov­ern­ment ally Rus­sia, which has ques­tioned the work of the in­quiry, may not sup­port ex­tend­ing its term.

“Re­new­ing the U.N. Joint In­ves­tiga­tive Mech­a­nism now should be the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil’s top pri­or­ity,” U.S.Am­bas­sador to the United Nations Nikki Ha­ley said in a state­ment on Wed­nes­day.

“We owe it to the in­no­cent peo­ple - in­clud­ing chil­dren – who have suf­fered and died at the hands of the Syr­ian regime to con­tinue to push for full ac­count­abil­ity for these hor­rific crimes,” she said.

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil met in New York on Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss the use of chem­i­cal weapons in Syria

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