THE HAGUE – Global arms experts Wednesday confirmed chlorine was used in a Syrian town in February leaving residents fighting for breath, as the world awaits the results of a probe into last month's alleged poison gas attack on Douma.
A fact-finding mission by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) determined that "chlorine was released from cylinders by mechanical impact in the Al Talil neighbourhood of Saraqeb" on February 4, an OPCW statement said.
The team's conclusions were based on finding two cylinders "which were determined as previously containing chlorine."
In addition, the OPCW said environmental samples had "demonstrated the unusual presence of chlorine in the local environment."
Its team had also interviewed witnesses, and found that a "number of patients at medical facilities shortly after the incident showed signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine."
In line with its mandate, the watchdog did not say which side in Syria's complex seven-year-old civil war was responsible for using the chlorine.
Eleven people were treated for breathing difficulties the day after Syrian government raids on Saraqeb, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at the time.
"I strongly condemn the use of toxic chemicals as weapons by anyone, for any reason, and in any circumstances," said OPCW head Ahmet Uzumcu.
"Such acts contradict the unequivocal prohibition against chemical weapons."
Results are also awaited from a difficult mission by an OPCW fact-finding team to the Syrian town of Douma, after medics and rescuers said 40 people died in a chlorine and sarin attack on April 7.
The team exhumed bodies and gathered more than 100 environmental samples now being analysed in different OPCW-designated labs.
The Douma attack triggered a wave of punitive missile strikes against alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria by the United States, Britain and France.