OPCW Fact Finding Mission: “Compelling Confirmation” That Chlorine Gas Used as Weapon in Syria
The fact-finding mission (FFM) appointed by the OPCW Director-General to examine alleged uses of chlorine gas as a weapon in Syria has found information constituting “compelling confirmation” that a toxic chemical was used “systematically and repeatedly” as a weapon in villages in northern Syria earlier this year.
In its second report that includes key findings, the Mission states that “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.”
The report says chlorine was used in attacks on the villages of Talmanes, Al Tamanah and Kafr Zeta, all located in northern Syria. In May this year, the FFM had attempted to visit Kafr Zeta to gather on-site evidence in the aftermath of an alleged use there but was prevented from doing so when the convoy was attacked. The FFM then decided to carry out witness interviews in a safe location outside of Syria.
The FFM’s report presents the key findings from dozens of interviews with victims, physicians, first responders and eyewitnesses to the attacks, together with a considerable amount of documentation such as video, medical records and other evidence collected since the publication of the FFM’s first report in mid-June.
Following the establishment of the FFM in late April 2014, there was a marked reduction in reported chlorine attacks in the months of May, June and July. But there was a spate of new allegations in August. The Director-General has asked the FFM to continue its work.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global campaign to permanently eliminate these weapons. Since its entry into force in 1997 the Convention has become the fastest growing arms treaty in history with 190 States Parties, and more than 82% of all declared chemical arsenals have already been destroyed under OPCW verification. For these unprecedented achievements, the OPCW was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2013.