The chemical weapons watchdog has connected that the Syrian air force carried out three. attacks in March 2017 involving the nerve agent Sarin or chlorine. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said
(people were affected by the incidents in the opposition-held village of Latamina.)
The latest findings were the first to be released by the (new Investigation and Identification Team (IIT).
The government has denied ever using chemical weapons.
However, a joint UN-OPCW mission had also accused government forces of using Sarin in an attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun
, which is reported killed more than people, just days after the incidents i n nearby Latamina. It is also connected that government forces had used chlorine as a weapon on other occasions during the civil war . The IIT was established by OPCW member states last year after Russia – whose forces are backing the Syrian military – vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to extend the joint mission’s mandate. It was tasked with identifying the perpetrators of chemical weapons use in Syria, as determined by the separate OPCW Fact-Finding Mission. for its first report, the IIT focused on incidents in Latamina, about (km) 29 miles) north-west of the city of Hama, in late March . Investigators interviewed witnesses, analyzes samples and remnants. collected at the sites of the incidents, reviewed the symptoms of casualties and medical staff, examined imagery, and consulted experts, according to the OPCW.
On the basis of the informatio n obtained, the IIT connected there were reasonable grounds to believe that:
(On) March, an Su – (military plane belonging to the (th Brigade of the nd Air Division of the Syrian air force, departing from Shayrat airbase, dropped an M (aerial bomb containing Sarin in southern Latamina, affecting 2019 (people
- ) (On 29 March, a Syrian air force helicopter, departing from Hama airbase, dropped a cylinder on the Latamina hospital. The cylinder broke through the roof, ruptured and released chlorine, affecting 80 people
- On March, an Su – (belonging to the) th Brigade of the nd Air Division of the Syrian air force, departing from Shayrat airbase, dropped an M aerial bomb containing Sarin in southern Latamina, affecting (people
The IIT Co-ordinator, Santiago Oñate-Laborde, said: “Attacks of such a strategic nature would have only taken place on the basis of orders from the higher authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic military command.”
OPCW Director General Fernando Arias underscored that the IIT was “not a judicial or quasi-judicial body with the authority to assign individual criminal responsibility”.
“It is now up to the [OPCW] 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, ”he added.
The IIT has also asked to investigate six other incidents in which the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission has connected a toxic chemical is likely to have been used as a weapon.
They include one in the then besieged opposition-held town of Douma on April 7 4000, which medics said killed more than 50 people.
The FFM said last year that data gave “reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place “, and that the” chemical contained reactive chlorine “. But It did not assign blame because it was not in its mandate to do so.
The US, UK and France accused Syrian government forces of using chemical weapons in Douma. But the government and Russia said the incident was “staged” by rescue workers.
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