Watchdog: Chlorine used in Syrian town of Saraqeb

OPCW labels are seen inside a damaged house in Douma in Damascus Syria

OPCW labels are seen inside a damaged house in Douma in Damascus Syria

Aspects of the evidence gathered at Saraqeb and Douma are very similar, weapons experts said. However, its mandate is only to verify whether chemical weapons have been used, not to establish responsibility.

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.

An OPCW fact-finding mission determined that "chlorine was released from cylinders by mechanical impact in the Al Talil neighborhood of Saraqeb" on February 4, the statement said.

They said they had "determined that chlorine was released from cylinders" in the attack and found an "unusual presence of chlorine in the local environment".

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

About 11 people were treated after the attack on February 4. for mild and moderate symptoms of toxic chemical exposure, including breathing difficulties, vomiting and unconsciousness, the report said. Nauert blamed it on the Syrian government. His regime denies the allegations.

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"I strongly condemn the use of toxic chemicals as weapons by anyone, for any objective and under any circumstances, said the Director General of the OPCW Ahmet üzümcü, commenting on the conclusions of the experts of the organization".

"Such acts contradict the unequivocal prohibition against chemical weapons enshrined in the Chemical Weapons Convention", he added. The town has before come under suspected chemical attacks, including in 2016 and in 2013.

The team exhumed bodies as well as gathering over 100 environmental samples which are being analysed in different OPCW-designated labs.

"This was the role created by the UN security Council, the Joint UN and OPCW to investigate chemical attacks in Syria, whose mandate expired in December 2017", - reminded in the organization.

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has been working privately to bridge the differences between Russian Federation and the west on how to reform the OPCW so that it has powers to attribute responsibility.

The Syrian government has been accused multiple times of carrying out chemical weapons attacks on civilians since the civil war began in 2011.

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