Chlorine likely used in attack on Syria town Douma: OPCW
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Chlorine likely used in attack on Syria town Douma: OPCW

The use of chlorine by foreign-backed terrorists is a long-known fact, while nerve agents are usually attributed to the Syrian government which surrendered all its chemical stockpile in 2013. The new report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) released on Friday, however, did not assign blame for the incident on a Douma suburb in 2018. The watchdog said there were "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 Hague-based organization said, noting that it had found no evidence of the use of nerve agents in the Syrian town. The report was based on a visit by OPCW inspectors to the site of the attack.  The watchdog said it had reached its conclusions based on "witnesses' testimonies, environmental and biomedical samples analysis results, toxicological and ballistic analyses from experts." The Douma attack occurred at a time when the Syrian army was about to win the battle against the foreign-backed militants there. Witnesses said at least 43 people were killed in the incident. However, Western states were quick to blame the Syrian government for the attack, which Damascus firmly rejected. One week after the suspected gas attack, the US, Britain and France launched a coordinated missile strike against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs. Damascus and its allies in the war saw the attack as a bid to prop up terrorists, faulting the invaders for ignoring Syria's repeated requests for an international probe into the incident. Syria surrendered its entire chemical stockpile in 2013 to a mission led by the OPCW and the United Nations. Several reports have previously suggested the use of chlorine against civilians by anti-Damascus militants. Commenting on the OPCW report, Russia which has been assisting Syria in its counter-terrorism fight said that the Douma attack was "staged" by the White Helmets volunteer organization. "In spite of all the evidence presented by Russia, Syria, and even British journalists that the Douma incident is no more than 'White helmets' staged provocation, Technical Secretariat of OPCW states in today's report that chlorine was used in Douma as a chemical weapon," the Russian Embassy in The Hague tweeted.

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