World, Middle East

Watchdog confirms Syrian regime behind chemical attacks

Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons blames regime forces in latest report for 2017 attacks

Nuri Aydin   | 08.04.2020
Watchdog confirms Syrian regime behind chemical attacks

ANKARA

A global chemical weapons watchdog issued a report Wednesday confirming chemical weapons were used by the Syrian air force in northern Syria in 2017.

The report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for the first time blamed the Bashar al-Assad regime for using chemical weapons in the town of Ltamenah.

"[..] the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) has determined that chemical weapons have been used or likely used in Syria,” it said.

Investigations were conducted between June 2019 and March 2020, focusing on the incidents in the town on March 24, 25 and 30 of 2017.

"It is now up to the Executive Council and the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the United Nations Secretary-General, and the international community as a whole to take any further action they deem appropriate and necessary,” the watchdog's director-general Fernando Arias said.

Santiago Onate-Laborder, coordinator of the Investigation and Identification Team set up by the watchdog in 2018, said: "There are reasonable grounds to believe that the perpetrators of the use of sarin as a chemical weapon in Ltamenah on 24 and 30 March 2017, and the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon on 25 March 2017 were individuals belonging to the Syrian Arab Air Force.”

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on protesters with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.

*Writing by Handan Kazanci

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