Chlorine-like chemicals likely used in Syria

June 18, 2014 - 4:07:29 am

AMSTERDAM: Chemical weapons inspectors who came under attack while investigating claims of chlorine gas attacks in Syria last month found information suggesting that similar chemicals had indeed been used, the global chemical weapons watchdog said yesterday.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical stockpile, said inspectors had information pointing to chlorine gas-like chemicals having been used despite having been forced to cut short their mission after the attack.

“Despite the grave incident which prevented the fact-finding mission from conducting an important field visit, the team was able to prepare a preliminary report,” the organisation said in a statement.

“The information that was available to the fact-finding mission lends credence to the view that toxic chemicals — most likely pulmonary irritating agents, such as chlorine — have been used in Syria,” the body said.

The inspectors, from a joint OPCW/United Nations fact-finding team, were travelling to the central province of Hama to investigate allegations of illegal chlorine attacks by government forces when their convoy came under attack.

No team members were injured in the attack.

In eastern Syria, new clashes have erupted between rebels seeking President Bashar Al Assad’s ouster and jihadists that have captured swathes of territory in neighbouring Iraq, a monitor said yesterday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday night’s fighting broke out when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant “tried to push an advance” in the village of Basira, in eastern Deir Ezzor province close to Iraq.

Blasts went off as ISIL militants targeted the rebel brigades and their Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front allies in the oil-rich province, said the Observatory.

As well as the fighting, Deir Ezzor’s Shmeytiyeh village also saw a car bomb attack targeting a base belonging to Al Nusra and Islamist rebel brigades fighting ISIL, killing seven of their fighters.