Watchdog group: Sarin, chlorine 'very likely used' in 2017 strikes in Syria

Watchdog group: Sarin, chlorine 'very likely used' in 2017 strikes in Syria
© Getty Images

An international chemical weapons watchdog said on Wednesday that sarin and chlorine were "very likely" used in two attacks in northern Syria last year.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced that its fact-finding mission in Latamneh concluded that "sarin was very likely used as a chemical weapon" in a March 24, 2017, attack.

It also concluded that chlorine was very likely used in an attack that hit Latamneh Hospital a day later, on March 25.

ADVERTISEMENT

The findings are based on witness testimonies, environmental samples and epidemiological analyses. The OPCW said that the findings have been sent to the United Nations Security Council and state parties of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The OPCW is not authorized to determine who was responsible for the attacks. 

The OPCW's report on the attacks in Latamneh comes as the watchdog prepares to release its fact-finding mission's report on a suspected chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma on April 7.

That strike left hundreds of people injured and dozens dead. It also prompted a series of coordinated strikes from the U.S., France and the United Kingdom that targeted facilities associated with Syria's chemical weapons program.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand urges opposition to Kavanaugh: Fight for abortion rights 'is now or never' Trump claims tariffs on foreign nations will rescue US steel industry: report Bannon announces pro-Trump movie, operation team ahead of midterms: report MORE authorized a missile strike on a Syrian airbase in April 2017 after a chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun that was blamed on the Syrian government.

Syria and its allies have fervently denied that the country's government has used chemical weapons and have sought to place blame for the attacks on rebel groups.

Syria has been ravaged by a civil war since 2011 that has driven millions of people from their homes. The U.S. has kept troops in the country for years, though their primary mission is fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. 

Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is backed by Russia and Iran, has reclaimed most of the country from rebels and militant groups, though some enclaves remain. The government’s alleged chemical attacks have primarily targeted those rebel-held areas.