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OPCW concludes chemical weapons 'likely used' in Syria

[JURIST] The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) [official website] released [UN News Centre report] a report [text, PDF] on Tuesday concluding that chemical weapons were "likely used" during the February attacks in Syria.

According to the report, the OPCW found chlorine gas in two cylinders and in the environment. Their findings were also supported by eyewitness testimony and the symptoms from those in the affected area following the attack.

The attack occurred on February 4 in the Al Talil neighborhood of Saraqib, which was not under government control at the time.

There have been ongoing reports of chemical use in Syria [JURIST news archives] for several years. In April 2017 Russia vetoed [JURIST report] a UN resolution that would have condemned Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad's use of neurologic gas. Also last April the UN's Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic reported it knows of 34 documented incidents [JURIST report] where chemical weapons were used. In April of this year the UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed concern [JURIST report] over renewed violence and reports of chemical weapons attack against civilians in Douma.

In November the Russian Federation vetoed [JURIST report] a measure before the UN Security Council (UNSC) [official website] that would have expanded the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons‑United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism [official website] resulting in the mandate expiring. In an attempt to continue the joint resolution, the UNSC voted [JURIST report] on three proposed resolutions that would implement measures to investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Those resolutions were not ultimately not adopted, after facing opposition in the Council.

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