Chlorine gas probably used in attack in Syria's Idlib: OPCW

OPCW confirms chlorine gas used in February attack in Syria's Idlib

A global arms watchdog on Wednesday confirmed that chlorine was "likely used as a chemical weapon" in a February attack on the Syrian town of Saraqeb.

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.

Eleven people had to be treated for breathing difficulties on February 4 after Syrian government raids on the town of Saraqeb, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at the time.

The conclusions are based on the presence of two cylinders, which were determined as previously containing chlorine, witness testimony and environmental samples confirming "the unusual presence of chlorine", it said.

The FFM was set up in 2014 with an on-going mandate to determine whether chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons have been used in Syria.

The FFM is required to study available information relating to allegations of use of chemical weapons in Syria, including information provided by the Syrian Arab Republic and others.

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The FFM's report on the Saraqib incident has been shared with States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The team exhumed bodies and gathered more than 100 environmental samples now being analysed in different OPCW-designated labs.

Russian Federation and the Syrian regime has refuted claims they carried out the attack, yet repeatedly obstructed and delayed access to the scene by the inspectors, raising suspicions they have tried to destroy evidence.

A joint OPCW-United Nations mechanism for Syria has previously concluded that the Syrian regime has used both sarin nerve agent and chlorine, killing and injuring hundreds of civilians.

The OPCW is not mandated to apportion blame for the attack. France and the United States stated that the evidence of use of chemical weapons in the Duma.

Before the panel's mandate ran out late previous year, it also found the Syrian military to blame for at least three chemical attacks in villages in 2014 and 2015.

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