İrem UZUN -TDO- The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)'s investigation team, the global chemical weapons watchdog accused on Wednesday the Syrian regime air force of being behind a series of chemical attacks using sarin and chlorine in late March 2017 on the central town of Latamneh in the country’s western Hama region. The formation of the organization was opposed by Moscow and Damascus previously.
The report is the first released by the Hague-based watchdog’s new Identification and Investigations Team (IIT), set up specifically to finger the perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria’s ongoing nine-year-long civil war. “Attacks of such a strategic nature would have only taken place on the basis of orders from the higher authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic military command,” IIT coordinator Santiago Onate-Laborde said in the OPCW statement. “Even if authority can be delegated, responsibility cannot. In the end, the IIT was unable to identify any other plausible explanation,” he said.
The report said the attacks were carried out by two SU-22 jet fighters which dropped two bombs containing sarin on March 24 and 30, 2017, as well as by a Syrian military helicopter that dropped a cylinder containing chlorine on a hospital in the town of Al-Lataminah on March 25 that year. Almost two years ago, the Hague-based body confirmed that sarin and chlorine were used in two attacks in Al-Lataminah, but at the time it did not name those responsible.
OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias said it is now up to the organization, “the United Nations Secretary-General, and the international community as a whole to take any further action they deem appropriate and necessary.”