OPCW says chlorine was used in an attack in Syria

OPCW inspectors collecting samples in Douma the scene of the chemical attack

OPCW inspectors collecting samples in Douma the scene of the chemical attack

The worldwide chemical weapons watchdog said Wednesday that chlorine was likely used as a weapon in the rebel-held northern Syrian town of Saraqeb in early February, the latest report of poison gas being unleashed in Syria's civil war.

The team's conclusions were based on finding two cylinders "which were determined as previously containing chlorine".

As well as, the OPCW stated environmental samples had "demonstrated the weird presence of chlorine within the native surroundings".

However, the global chemical weapons watchdog did not say who was responsible for the attack.

On Feb. 4, the White Helmets search-and-rescue group and a medical charity reported that several people suffered breathing difficulties after a suspected chlorine gas attack on Saraqeb, days after the Trump administration accused President Bashar Assad's government of producing and using "new kinds of weapons" to deliver poisonous gases.

Mohammad Ghaleb Tannari, a doctor in a nearby town in Idlib province, also told AFP at the time that his hospital had treated 11 people. Aid organizations later said they had treated people for symptoms of chlorine gas poisoning.

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In response to persistent allegations of chemical weapon attacks in Syria, the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) was set up in 2014 with an on-going mandate "to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic". "Such actions are in direct conflict with the unequivocal prohibition on the use of toxic substances contained in the Convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons".

Douma probe ongoing: Another OPCW investigative team is now assessing evidence from the Syrian town of Douma to determine whether an April 7 attack that left 40 dead used chlorine and sarin gas.

The Douma chemical attack in April prompted missile strikes by the United States, France and Britain against chemical weapons facilities in Syria.

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

Syria and Russian Federation have accused Syrian volunteer rescue workers of staging the 7 April video footage at the behest of the United States and its allies. Areas around the cannisters were also tested.

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