Watchdog says chlorine possibly used in Douma attack

Elias Hubbard
July 9, 2018

Chlorine may have been used in the chemical attack that targeted the Syrian town of Douma in April, said the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Friday.

Weapons inspectors have concluded there were "chlorinated chemicals" in an attack on a Syrian rebel holdout that triggered retaliatory airstrikes from Britain, France and the US.

Thousands of displaced Syrians were heading home Saturday after rebels and the government reached a ceasefire deal in the south following more than two weeks of deadly bombardment.

"Work by the team to establish the significance of these results is ongoing".

Medics and rescuers say many of those killed died when a cylinder landed on the roof on a housing block.

The team's mission to Douma was launched following worldwide outrage over images of adults and children appearing to be suffering from the effects of a poison gas attack.

There had been claims that residents were victims of exposure to sarin gas - but that has been ruled out by Friday's interim report.

Russian Federation stuck by its ally Syria and insisted the attack was staged by the White Helmets, a volunteer rescue service operating in rebel-held parts of Syria.

The Syrian government denies using chemical weapons during the country´s long civil war but the previous joint inquiry of the United Nations and the OPCW found the Syrian government used the nerve agent sarin in an April 2017 attack and has also several times used chlorine as a weapon.

The two locations where no traces were found, a warehouse and a facility, were suspected of being used for the production of chemical weapons.

Two samples recovered from gas cylinders at the scene tested positive for chlorine, the report said.

"On the basis of the information received and analysed, the prevailing narrative of the interviews, and the results of the laboratory analyses, the FFM can not confidently determine whether or not a specific chemical was used as a weapon in the incidents that took place in the neighbourhood of Al-Hamadaniyah and in the area of Karm al-Tarrab", said the OPCW.

The OPCW report comes about a week after the OPCW was granted authority not only to investigate whether any alleged chemical attack took place, but also to assign blame for them.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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