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OPCW Condemns Syrian Regime over Sarin Attacks

OPCW Condemns Syrian Regime over Sarin Attacks

Thursday, 9 July, 2020 - 10:30

Member countries of the global chemical weapons watchdog decided on Thursday to take action on a probe that explicitly blamed the Syrian regime for nerve gas attacks for the first time, diplomats said.

The report issued in April by a new investigations team at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) found that the Syrian air force used sarin gas and chlorine on the village of Lataminah in March 2017.

Proposed by France, the motion called for Syria to "rectify the situation" and urged the head of the OPCW to report back on the matter, French ambassador Luis Vassy said in a speech to the council this week.

It also referred the situation to the annual meeting of all member countries in November with "recommendations for measures which could be taken... in the event of lack of redress."

UK ambassador Peter Wilson said in a tweet that countries had voted to "take action on the IIT (Investigation and Identification Team) report" calling it a "resounding majority vote for an end to CW (chemical weapons) use."

The motion was passed by 29 votes, with three against and nine abstentions.

Only Russia, China and Iran voted against the decision at the OPCW's executive council -- its decision-making body comprising 41 of its 193 member states -- accusing Syria of breaching the Chemical Weapons Convention, AFP reported.

The first ever report by the OPCW's new investigations team found that two Syrian fighter jets dropped bombs containing the nerve agent sarin on Lataminah and that a helicopter dropped a barrel bomb full of chlorine on the village.

The team was set up in 2018 under Western pressure to identify the perpetrators of attacks.

Damascus and its backer Moscow have dismissed the probe's conclusions, alleged that chemical weapons attacks were faked, and accused Western powers of politicising the OPCW, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.

According to AFP, Syria has continued to deny the use of chemical weapons and insists it has handed over its weapons stockpiles under a 2013 agreement, prompted by a suspected sarin attack that killed 1,400 in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.

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