Chlorine gas likely used in Feb Saraqeb attack - OPCW

Syrians suffering from breathing difficulties following Syrian regime air strikes on the northwestern town of Saraqeb. Omar Haj Kadour  AFP

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.

"Such acts contradict the unequivocal prohibition against chemical weapons".

The OPCW said its Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) has "confirmed that chlorine was likely used as a chemical weapon on February 4, 2018 in Saraqib, Idlib Governorate, Syrian Arab Republic".

It has not yet issued a report on that attack.

The group said it came to its conclusion based on the presence of two cylinders at the site, which were determined to previously contain chlorine, along with witness testimony and environmental samples that demonstrated the unusual presence of chlorine.

Bashar al Assad's Syrian regime has denied using chemical weapons and instead has blamed rebels for staging attacks to falsely implicate his forces in the atrocities.

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". The scale of the attack prompted the UK, France and the USA to mount cruise missile strikes on what it said were Syrian government chemical weapons sites.

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

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

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

But Syria and Russian Federation have accused Syrian volunteer rescue workers of staging shocking video footage of the alleged attack at the behest of the United States.

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.

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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