Chemical Weapons Agency: 'Toxic Chemical' Used in Attack on Syrian Rebel Town Last April

The attack on April 7, 2018, killed dozens of civilians and prompted air strikes against the Syrian government by Britain, France and the United States

Reuters
Reuters
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, on Nov. 20, 2017
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, on Nov. 20, 2017Credit: Mikhail Klimentyev, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Reuters
Reuters

Inspectors have concluded that a "toxic chemical" containing chlorine was used in an attack last April in the Syrian town of Douma, at the time held by rebels but besieged by pro-government forces, the global chemical weapons agency said on Friday.

The attack on April 7, 2018, killed dozens of civilians and prompted air strikes against the Syrian government by Britain, France and the United States.

Washington blamed the Syrian government and said it had used chemical weapons. Damascus denies having ever used chemical weapons.

During an investigation in mid-April, inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited two sites in Douma to interview witnesses and take samples, which have been analysed in OPCW-affiliated national laboratories.

The investigation did not assign blame, but the information gathered provided "reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken place on 7 April 2018".

"This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine," the OPCW said in a statement.

Weaponising chlorine is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention, ratified by Syria in 2013, and is prohibited under customary international humanitarian law.

The OPCW has documented systematic use of the banned nerve agent sarin and chlorine in Syria's civil war, now nearing its eighth year.

From 2015 to 2017 a joint U.N.-OPCW team had been appointed to assign blame for chemical attacks in Syria. It found that Syrian government troops had used the nerve agent sarin and chorine barrel bombs on several occasions, while Islamic State militants were found to have used sulphur mustard.

In June, the OPCW's member states granted the organisation new powers to assign blame for chemical weapons attacks, but that was not the mandate of the team that carried out the Douma inquiry.

The latest OPCW report "adds one more case to the scores of illegal chemical weapons attacks confirmed since 2013," said Lou Charbonneau of the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

"It’s clear that the organization’s new unit for attributing blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria has its work cut out. Those responsible for the use of these banned weapons should be unmasked and held to account.”

The OPCW is also looking into an alleged gas attack last November in Aleppo that reportedly made up to 100 people ill. The Syrian government and its ally, Russia, blamed that attack on insurgents.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage