THE HAGUE, May 16. /TASS/. The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons believes that chlorine was likely used as a chemical weapon on February 4, in Saraqib, Syria’s Idlib province, the OPCW press service said on Wednesday.
"The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), confirmed in a report released yesterday that chlorine was likely used as a chemical weapon on 4 February 2018 in Saraqib, Idlib Governorate, Syrian Arab Republic," the press service said. "The FFM determined that chlorine was released from cylinders by mechanical impact in the Al Talil neighbourhood of Saraqib. The conclusions are based inter alia on the presence of two cylinders, which were determined as previously containing chlorine; witness testimony; environmental samples that demonstrated the unusual presence of chlorine in the local environment; and the number of patients at medical facilities shortly after the incident who showed signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine and other toxic chemicals."
Based on this fact, the FFM prepared a report that was distributed among the member states of the Chemical Weapons Convention on Tuesday. The document was also submitted to the Security Council through the UN secretary-general.
OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu resolutely denounced the use of toxic substances as weapons by anyone for any purposes and under any circumstances, saying that such actions directly contradict the strict ban for the use of poisonous substances enshrined in the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The OPCW added that "the FFM’s mandate is to determine whether chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons have been used in Syria". "It does not include identifying who is responsible for alleged attacks. Attribution was part of the mandate of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism, set up by the UN Security Council, which expired in November 2017," the organization said.
State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert reported about the attack with the use of chlorine gas near the city of Saraqib on February 6. She noted then that it was the sixth such case in the last 30 days. Nauert did not provide any other details of the incident and pinned the blame for it on the Syrian government without any evidence.