Chlorine suspected in February chemical attack on civilians in Syria

Chlorine suspected in February chemical attack on civilians in Syria
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Chlorine munitions were dropped on a city in northern Syria in February, according to an international chemical weapons watchdog report on Wednesday. 

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that a fact-finding mission had determined that "chlorine was released from cylinders by mechanical impact in the Al Talil neighbourhood of Saraqib" in Syria's Idlib province on Feb. 4.

The determination was based on the discovery of two cylinders that are believed to have previously contained chlorine, as well as witness interviews and "the unusual presence of chlorine in the local environment," the watchdog said.

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The group also cited a number of patients that were treated for symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine and other chemical agents after the attack.

The OPCW did not say who was responsible for the chlorine attack on Saraqib, which lies in rebel-held territory.

Western officials have blamed the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad for repeatedly using banned chemical weapons to carry out attacks in rebel-held areas of the war-torn country.

The now-defunct Joint Investigative Mechanism set up by the United Nations and the OPCW previously determined that the Syrian government had used both chlorine and the nerve agent sarin. 

A suspected chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma in April prompted a series of strikes on alleged chemical weapons targets in Syria by the U.S., France and the United Kingdom.

The OPCW is also investigating the Douma chemical strike, which left dozens of civilians dead. The U.S. has alleged that the Syrian government carried out that attack using chlorine and sarin.