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OPCW says chlorine used in attack on Syria's Douma in April 2018

The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) issued a final report on Friday, coming to a conclusion that chlorine was used during the April 2018 attack in Syria's Douma.

"The evaluation and analysis of all the above-referenced information gathered by the FFM provide reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken place on 7 April 2018. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine," the OPCW said in a statement.

The FFM's activities included "on-site visits to collect environmental samples, conduct witness interviews and gather data." "The FFM further analyzed a range of inputs including witness testimonies, environmental and biomedical samples analysis results, toxicological and ballistic analyses, and additional digital information from witnesses."

A number of NGOs, including the White Helmets, alleged that chemical weapons had been used in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, on April 7, 2018. According to a statement uploaded to that organization's website on April 8, chlorine bombs had been dropped on the city, which caused dozens of fatalities. The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed this as fake news. Representatives of the Russian Center for reconciliation of the conflicting sides in Syria visited the site on April 9, but did not find any signs of chemical weapons use.

On April 14, 2018 the United States, the United Kingdom and France launched missile strikes on Syria's military and civilian infrastructure facilities without the UN Security Council's authorization. The strikes targeted a scientific and research center in Damascus, the Republican Guard's headquarters, an air defense base, several airfields and army depots. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Syrian air defenses managed to shoot down 71 out of 103 missiles. Washington, London and Paris claimed the strikes were a response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7.

[Source: Itar Tass, The Hague, 01Mar19]

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