The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has concluded that chemical weapons were used “systematically and repeatedly” in attacks on insurgent-held towns and villages in Hama and Idlib Provinces this spring.
The fact-finding mission’s “compelling confirmation” supported numerous reports that the Syrian military dropped chlorine gas canisters, carried inside barrel bombs on Talmanes, Kafrzita, and al-Tamenes. At least 20 people were killed and hundreds injured by the assaults, which led to breathing problems in victims.
The regime used the chlorine as it tried to break the insurgency’s threat to a main highway from Hama to Idlib and Aleppo Provinces.
The OPCW Mission said, “The descriptions, physical properties, behaviour of the gas, and signs and symptoms resulting from exposure, as well as the response of patients to the treatment, leads the FFM to conclude with a high degree of confidence that chlorine, either pure or in mixture, is the toxic chemical in question.”
Video of patients being treated after one of the attacks:
The findings expose the Syrian regime’s attempt to cover up the allegations amid a visit this week by the head of the OPCW’s mission in Syria, Sigrid Kaag. Deputy Foreign Feisal Mikdad declared that she had hailed “the serious and responsible manner in which Syria tackled this issue [of chemical weapons] as per the instructions of President Bashar al-Assad.”
The report was delayed for months because of obstruction. In May, an OCPW-UN convoy was attacked en route to Kafrzita. The Mission then decided to carry out dozens of interviews with victims, physicians, first responders, and eyewitnesses in safe locations outside Syria.
The Mission also considered video, medical records, and other evidence.
In light of reports of regime attacks since April, the OPCW’s Director-General has asked the Mission to continue its work.