Report concludes industrial chlorine cylinder was used as a weapon
The Fact-Finding Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) this week issued its report on the investigation regarding incidents of alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon in Kafr Zeita, Governorate of Hama, Syrian Arab Republic, on 1 October 2016.
On 2 October 2016, open sources broadcasted reports of the alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon in Kafr Zeita on 1 October 2016. The reported incident involved two industrial chlorine cylinder “barrels” containing toxic gas near a field hospital. Approximately 20 individuals suffered from suffocation and breathing difficulties.
The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission conducted interviews with witnesses, obtained digital evidence, and obtained one of the industrial chlorine cylinders retrieved from the incident location in Kafr Zeita. The OPCW team observed that the industrial cylinder was engraved with markings reading “CL 2 ”, the molecular formula for chlorine gas. Off-site chemical analyses performed by independent laboratories, part of the OPCW Designated Laboratories network, a mechanical study, and digital simulations were conducted to assess the damage visible on the cylinder. The Fact-Finding Mission was able to positively link the chlorine cylinder to the 1 October 2016 incident. Forensic findings showed that the cylinder ruptured as a result of mechanical force and released a toxic irritant substance that affects the respiratory system and mucus membranes.
The report concluded there are reasonable grounds to believe that the industrial chlorine cylinder was used as a weapon.
The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission report was shared with States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The report will also be transmitted to the United Nations Security Council through the UN Secretary-General.
The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission has previously determined that the use of chlorine, sulfur mustard, and sarin as chemical weapons took place in other incidents in the Syrian Arab Republic.