The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) accused Syria on Friday, January 27, of carrying out a chlorine attack that killed 43 people in Syria in 2018. According to a much-anticipated report by investigators from the OPCW, “there are reasonable grounds to believe” that the Syrian Air Force dropped poison gas on the city of Douma, near Damascus, during the civil war.
“At least one Syrian Arab Air Force Mi-8/17 helicopter, departing from Doumayr air base and operating under the control of the Tiger Forces, dropped two yellow cylinders, which hit two buildings residential in a central area of the city »is it written in the report.
One of the projectiles hit a roof, “ruptured and quickly released (…) chlorine, at very high concentrations, which quickly dispersed through the building, killing 43 identified people and affecting dozens more”, describes the report. The second cylinder struck a flat, partially opened and “began to slowly release chlorine, slightly affecting those who arrived first on the scene.”
“The world now knows the facts”
Rescuers said they treated people with breathing problems, foaming at the mouth and other symptoms. Investigators, who were denied access to the site by Damascus, analyzed samples taken from the scene, interviewed survivors and witnesses, and conducted ballistics tests. They reviewed video and photographic evidence, satellite images, computer schematics and called in experts.
“The use of chemical weapons in Douma – and elsewhere – is unacceptable and constitutes a violation of international law”OPCW Director General Fernando Arias said in a statement. “The world now knows the facts, it is up to the international community to act”he added.
The OPCW’s work sparked controversy after two former employees of the organization, based in The Hague, questioned the findings of an earlier investigation, believing that they had been changed in order to make the evidence of a more conclusive chemical attack. But the OPCW said its investigators had “examined a series of possible scenarios” and concluded that “The Syrian Arab Air Force is the perpetrators of this attack”.
The theses proposed by Syria and Russia rejected
Damascus and its ally Moscow have repeatedly denied this attack to Douma, offering other hypotheses. They accused rebels and rescuers of staging the attack and bringing dead bodies to the scene. They also claimed that an Islamist chemical weapons factory had been hit. But OPCW investigators said there was no evidence to support the claims, which they have “meticulously examined”.
Douma was controlled by rebels at the time of the incident, which occurred during a major offensive by Syrian government forces to retake the city, located near the capital. A few days later, the United States launched airstrikes on Syria with the United Kingdom and France.
Source: Le Monde