Syria: chlorine probably used in attack on Saraqeb – OPCW


An investigation by the chemical weapons watchdog has found that chlorine is likely to have been used in an attack on a Syrian town in February. In what is likely to be seen as a dry run for a more controversial report later this month, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found that the February attack on the neighbourhood of Saraqeb was caused by the dropping of two cylinders that had contained chlorine on to a field in the town.

The OPCW is to report soon on whether chemical weapons were used on a larger-scale attack in Douma, eastern Ghouta, in May. Aspects of the evidence gathered at Saraqeb and Douma are very similar, weapons experts said. The OPCW does not have the power to attribute responsibility for attacks, and the UN body that did have the power to attribute blame has been closed after Russia used its veto to block the renewal of its mandate. Russia will not allow the mandate to be renewed unless the UN security council – on which Russia has a veto – is empowered to reject or endorse the body’s findings. Moscow has also become increasingly critical of the OPCW’s neutrality and working methods, especially after its experts found that a military-grade nerve agent had been deployed in the Salisbury attack on Russian former double-agent Sergei Skripal.(theguardian)…[+]