Syria: OPCW accuses Damascus of chemical attack on Douma in 2018

A street in Douma on April 16, 2018 a few days after the chemical attack that killed 43 people.

AP - Hassan Ammar

Text by: RFI Follow

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The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Friday accused Damascus of carrying out a chlorine attack that killed 43 people in Syria in 2018, an incident that sparked tensions between Damascus and the West.


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According to a highly anticipated report by OPCW investigators, " 

there are reasonable grounds to believe

" that at least one Syrian Air Force helicopter dropped two barrels of poison gas on the town of Douma, near of Damascus during the civil war.

The world now knows the facts - it is up to the international community to act, at the OPCW and beyond

 ," the organization's director general, Fernando Arias, said in a statement.

Damascus and its ally Moscow said the attack on April 7, 2018, was staged by rescue workers at the request of the United States, which launched airstrikes on Syria days later with the UK and France.

The OPCW said an " 


" Syrian unit known as Tiger Force launched the attack during a military offensive to retake Douma, and that the Islamist rebels agreed to withdraw the following day.


At least one Syrian Arab Air Force Mi-8/17 helicopter, departing from Dumayr air base and operating under the control of the Tiger Forces, dropped two yellow cylinders, which hit two buildings residential in a central area of ​​the city

 ,” the report reads.

Respiratory problems and foaming at the mouth

A cylinder hit a roof, ' 

ruptured and rapidly released toxic gas, chlorine, in very high concentrations, which rapidly dispersed throughout the building, killing 43 identified people and affecting dozens more 

“, says the report.

The second cylinder slammed into an apartment, partially split open and " 

started to slowly release chlorine, slightly affecting those who arrived on the scene first

 ", he added.

Rescuers said at the time they treated people with breathing problems, foaming at the mouth and other symptoms.

The OPCW dismissed claims that the rebels and rescuers staged the attack by bringing dead bodies to the scene and fake chlorine bottles.

Syria must be " 

held accountable " for the "


"  incident

, the United States said on Friday, saying it was the ninth chemical attack blamed on Damascus.

The United Kingdom, for its part, condemned an "


" attack.

Damascus denies the use of chemical weapons and claims to have handed over its stockpiles as part of a 2013 deal sparked by an alleged

sarin gas attack that killed 1,400 people in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.





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