Chlorine likely used in February attack in Idlib, Syria-weapons agency

A global arms watchdog confirmed that chlorine was

The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons believes that chlorine was likely used as a chemical weapon on February 4, in Saraqib, Syria's Idlib province, the OPCW press service said on Wednesday.

Banned chlorine munitions were likely dropped on a Syrian neighbourhood in February, an worldwide body on chemical weapons said on Wednesday, after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of the toxic chemical.

The report by the OPCW's fact finding mission for Syria "determined that chlorine was released from cylinders by mechanical impact in the Al Talil neighborhood of Saraqib".

Attack: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, reported government airstrikes on rebel-held Saraqeb on February 4, adding 11 people had to be treated for breathing difficulties after the attack.

The conclusions on the Saraqib attack 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. Attribution was part of the mandate of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism, set up by the UN Security Council, which expired in December 2017.

"Such acts contradict the unequivocal prohibition against chemical weapons enshrined in the Chemical Weapons Convention", Mr Uzumcu said.

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The Douma attack triggered a wave of punitive missile strikes against alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria by the United States, Britain and France. But, the OPCW confirmed the use of chemicals in Syria in February. She noted then that it was the sixth such case in the last 30 days.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert blamed the incident on the Damascus government.

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

"These chemicals were detected in previous sarin attacks, Khan Sheikhoun, East Ghouta and no doubt Douma", Bretton-Gordon said.

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. However, its mandate is only to verify whether chemical weapons have been used, not to establish responsibility.

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