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OPCW confirms chlorine use in Saraqeb, Syria

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Wednesday (May 16th) confirmed that chlorine was "likely used as a chemical weapon" in a February attack on the Syrian town of Saraqeb, AFP reported.

An OPCW fact-finding mission determined that "chlorine was released from cylinders by mechanical impact in al-Talil neighbourhood of Saraqeb" on February 4th, the organisation said in a statement.

The team's conclusions were based on finding two cylinders "which were determined as previously containing chlorine” and on environmental samples which "demonstrated the unusual presence of chlorine in the local environment".

Eleven people were treated for breathing difficulties on February 4th after Syrian regime raids on Saraqeb, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at the time.

The OPCW said its team had 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”.

"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."

An OPCW fact-finding team is awaiting the results of its mission to the Syrian town of Douma, where 40 people died in an alleged gas attack on April 7th.

The team exhumed bodies as well as gathering over 100 environmental samples which are being analysed in different OPCW-designated labs.

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