The Asian Age
Report: Syria used chemical weapons
2018 Saraqib attack involved chlorine: OPCW
The Hague, April 12: The Syrian regime’s air force used the chemical weapon chlorine in an attack on the town of Saraqib in 2018, the global toxic arms watchdog said on Monday after an investigation.
The report is the second by an investigations team set up by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which has the new power to apportion blame for attacks.
The OPCW said in a statement that the Investigations and Identification Team (IIT) “concludes that units of the Syrian Arab Air Force used chemical weapons in Saraqib on 4 February 2018”.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that, at approximately 21.22 on 4 February 2018, a military helicopter of the Syrian Arab Air Force under the control of the Tiger Forces hit eastern Saraqib by dropping at least one cylinder,” the OPCW report said.
“The cylinder ruptured and released chlorine over a large area, affecting 12 named individuals.” OPCW investigators interviewed 30 witnesses, analysed samples collected at the scene, reviewed symptoms reported by victims and medical staff and examined satellite imagery to reach their conclusions, the Haguebased organisation said.
“Symptoms... included shortness of breath, skin irritation, chest pain, and coughing,” the report said.
However, it said it “regrets” that the Syrian regime refused to grant access to the site, some 30 miles (50 kilometres) south of Aleppo, despite repeated requests.
The team issued its first report a year ago, in which it said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s air force used the nerve agent sarin and chlorine in two attacks on the village of Lataminah in March 2017.
Despite strong objections by Damascus and its ally Moscow, OPCW member states voted in 2018 to set up the team to attribute blame for attacks. Previously the watchdog could only say if chemical attacks had happened or not.
● THE TEAM issued its first report a year ago, in which it said Syrian President Bashar alAssad’s air force used the nerve agent sarin and chlorine in two attacks.