Chlorine gas used 'systematically' in Syria

Ahmet Uzumcu, the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said chlorine gas was used “systematically and repeatedly” in villages in northern Syria.

Chlorine gas used 'systematically' in Syria

World Bulletin / News Desk

Compelling evidence has been found that chlorine gas was used “systematically and repeatedly” in villages in northern Syria earlier this year, according to research conducted by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Ahmet Uzumcu, Head of the Organization told the Anadolu Agency that the second report of the fact-finding mission has been completed and the report revealed chlorine was used in attacks on the villages of Talmanes, Al Tamanah and Kafr Zeta, all located in northern Syria.

In a statement Wednesday, the mission revealed, “the description, physical properties, gas behavior, and signs and symptoms resulting from exposure, as well as the response of patients to the treatment, lead the fact-finding mission to conclude with a high degree of confidence that chlorine, either pure or in a mixture, is the toxic chemical in question.”

“Following the establishment of the fact-finding mission in late April 2014, there was a marked reduction in reported chlorine attacks in the months of May, June and July,” the organization said, but the Director-General asked the mission to continue its work in the wake of a spate of new allegations in August.

Uzumcu said that chlorine is not a chemical weapon on its own. He said, however, “according to our agreement, every chemical used to harm people, animals, plants, is accepted as a weapon” and added, “When the usage of chemicals is proven, it is accepted as a violation of the agreement.”

Uzumcu said that they have no information if chemical weapons have passed to the hands of Islamic State militants, but stressed that it is of concern to everyone should the organization have access to such material.

In response to questioning on Syria's hidden chemical weapon arsenal, he commented that the first prediction was that Syria had around 1,000 tons of chemical weapons.

He further explained that if any state had any suspicions on the stockpiling of chemical weapons, their concerns can be brought to the United Nations or his organization's agenda to act in taking steps to control their build up.

Uzumcu told Anadolu Agency that nearly 97 percent of Syria’s declared 1,300 tons of chemical weapons have been destroyed. The full process of destruction will be completed in the upcoming days, he said, adding that 12 chemical weapons production facilities are due to be destroyed.

Syria has been gripped by a civil war since March 2011 that has claimed more than 190,000 lives, according to the U.N., displacing half of the population.

Nearly 97 percent of Syria’s declared 1,300 tons of chemical weapons have been destroyed, the OPCW announced. The organization's chairman, Ahmet Uzumcu told The Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that the destruction of the entire arsenal of chemical weapons would be over in the upcoming days.

In August 2013, a chemical weapons attack in suburban Damascus killed nearly 1,500 people, prompting the international community to seek sanctions against the regime which it largely held responsible for the attack.

A deal between the U.S. and Russia last September averted a possible U.S. strike on Syria at the last minute, instead launching the process of destroying Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles. The process was presumed to end mid-2014, but a number of delays meant that the shipment of the entire declared arsenal was not complete until late June.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Eylül 2014, 09:39