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Interim OPCW report finds proof of chlorine used in Syria's Douma

09 July 2018

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Friday that its fact-finding mission had instead found traces of a more simple substance, chlorine, possibly used in the area.

"The results show that no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected", the OPCW said in an interim report late Friday. Various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from Locations 2 and 4, along with residues of explosive.

It added, however, that it was too early to come to full conclusions, saying that "work by the team to establish the significance of these results is on-going".

In April, they brought a group of Syrians to the global chemical weapons watchdog's headquarters in The Hague to denounce the reports of an illegal attack as fake.

The gruesome footage from the apparent attack horrified the world and prompted unprecedented Western strikes on Syrian military installations.

The fact-finding team was still working on the "provenance" of the cylinders which will require a "comprehensive analysis" by experts, the OPCW said.

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Following the attack, a United Nations investigation said evidence pointed to the use of chlorine but that some people had exhibited symptoms more consistent with exposure to a nerve agent. The United States, Britain and France blamed Syrian government forces and launched punitive airstrikes.

Two samples recovered from gas cylinders at the scene tested positive for chlorinated organic chemicals, 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.

Late past year, Russian Federation wielded its veto power at the UN Security Council to effectively kill a joint UN-OPCW panel aimed at identifying those behind suspected chemical attacks in the war-torn country.

"In the meantime, it should apply its new authority to determine responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in Syria to two other chemical weapons attacks (fact-finders) recently confirmed", Charbonneau said in a statement.

Interim OPCW report finds proof of chlorine used in Syria's Douma