Syrian chemical weapons attack allegations to be investigated by UN watchdog
By End the Lie
Allegations of a recent chemical weapons attack in Syria will be investigated by the United Nations Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), according to a statement.
The Syrian government agreed to allow a team from the UN watchdog to enter Syria and will provide protection to the mission in areas under government control, according to an OPCW statement.
The Guardian reports that the United States and France believe “that chlorine gas has been used at least nine times since February, killing scores of people and wounding hundreds more.”
The U.S. and France believe the Syrian government is responsible for the attacks.
Ahmet Uzumcu, the head of the OPCW, stated that a “mission would be created to establish facts” surrounding the allegations.
Earlier this week, the OPCW announced that 92.5% of Syria’s chemical weapons and precursor chemical stockpile has been moved to the northwestern port of Tartous.
The process of handing over the chemical weapons to international control is behind schedule, but has occurred without any disruption or sabotage, as the Guardian notes.
The OPCW statement on the new mission stated that their team is expected to depart for Syria soon, Al Jazeera reports, though a specific date was not given.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the UN would assist in the complex security and logistical arrangements involved in the mission, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Al Jazeera reports that chlorine is no longer considered a warfare agent and was not one of the chemicals declared by Syria when it joined the chemical weapons treaty in October.
Sigrid Kaag, who leads the OPCW mission overseeing the dismantling of the Syrian chemical weapons program called the reports of chlorine attacks “unsubstantiated” on Sunday, while still calling for an investigation, according to the WSJ.
However, The Telegraph reports that they conducted an independent test of soil samples from the scene of three recent attacks.
“Our results show sizeable and unambiguous traces of chlorine and ammonia present at the site of all three attacks,” the paper reported.
They report that the attacks were conducted by helicopter, “making it now certain that the recent chemical attacks could only have been carried out by the regime, not the opposition.”
Tuesday also saw a report published by Human Rights Watch accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government of bombing residential areas, despite a UN resolution two months ago against such attacks.
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