Chemical Weapons Still Used Regularly in Syria: Watchdog

International monitors find evidence of 'systematic' attacks

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 18, 2014 11:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – Even after Syria's agreement last year to rid itself of chemical weapons, it appears that they're still in steady use in the country, says an international watchdog in a report supporting earlier claims. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was unable to fully investigate the situation because its convoy was ambushed en route to a reported chemical attack site. But its preliminary findings suggest that "toxic chemicals, most likely … chlorine, have been used in a systematic manner."

Reports of more than a dozen instances of helicopters dropping barrel bombs prompted the investigation, the BBC notes. The attacks were said to be followed by chlorine poisoning symptoms. The OPCW team's findings "corroborate the testimonies provided by the treating physicians," its report says, and "the available information cannot be dismissed as unconnected, random, or of a nature attributable to purely political motives." Some 8% of Syria's declared chemical weapons remain in the country and can't be moved due to security concerns; chlorine wasn't among the chemicals required for declaration last year, AFP notes.

In this image taken from video posted on April 18, 2014, a Syrian man is treated with an inhaler in Kfar Zeita, a rebel-held village in Hama province.
In this image taken from video posted on April 18, 2014, a Syrian man is treated with an inhaler in Kfar Zeita, a rebel-held village in Hama province.   (AP Photo/Shaam News Network)
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