Syrian troops probably used chlorine gas in February 2018 in an air strike on the town of Saraqib, not far from Idlib. To this conclusion comes a committee of the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is based in The Hague.
The suspicion of the use of chlorine gas is not new, but there has never been such extensive research as it is now. This was done by the OPCW Research and Identification Team, the IIT. That IIT was specially created to establish as detailed as possible how chemical attacks were carried out during the war in Syria.
Cylinder with chlorine gas
little over a year ago, the first IIT report came out, about a chemical attack in a place not far from Homs, in 2017, and the report on Saraqib is the second. The conclusion is that ‘reasonably’ it can be assumed that on 4 February 2018 a Syrian Air Force helicopter at least one cylinder of chlorine gas was thrown over a residential area of Saraqib. It is a town with several tens of thousands of inhabitants in north-western Syria.
When the cylinder came to the ground, it tore, which released the chlorine gas and spread over a large surface. No one was killed by the toxic gas, but 12 people had to be treated for symptoms associated with a chemical weapon attack. They had nausea, difficulty breathing, irritated eyes and coughing attacks.
Declarations, samples, documents
The OPCW researchers were not able to conduct research in Syria themselves, and they were not allowed to do so. However, they have statements from thirty people involved. They also examined a large number of samples and huge numbers of documents.
The use of chemical weapons is prohibited under an international treaty of 1997, and the OPCW will ensure compliance with it.