OPCW to investigate alleged Syria chemical weapons attack in two months

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-29 01:38:31|Editor: yan
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THE HAGUE, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Investigators of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will complete a final report of the inquiry into an alleged chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria in two months, OPCW Director-General Ahmeet Uzumcu said on Friday.

"The submission of the first report will take another 10 days," the head of the global chemical weapons watchdog said, adding "The final report will take two months to be completed."

On April 4, an alleged toxic gas attack occurred in Khan Sheikhoun in the rebel-held province of Idlib in Syria, killing nearly 90 people including children.

Experts of the OPCW fact-finding mission have been sent to the area to interview survivors and gather bio-metric samples. preliminary analyses indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance.

"The mandate of the OPCW is limited to determine whether there has been use of chemical weapons not to determine the perpetrators of the incidents," stressed Uzumcu. The report's findings will pass on to the United Nations joint investigative mechanism tasked with identifying those responsible for using chemical weapons.

Syrian authorities have repeatedly denied using any chemical weapons. However, the United States accused the Syrian army of carrying out the April 4 attack. The United States launched a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base in retaliation for the suspected chemical weapons attack which widened a rift between the United States and Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The OPCW chief said the organization's findings could not confirm allegations that the Syrian government is still possessing chemical weapons nor that Syria has used sarin in previous attacks.

"There are claims that Syria still possesses chemical weapons, but we are not able to substantiate these claims," he said.

Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013. "We are not in a position to confirm whether they have chemical weapons in their possession," said Uzumcu.

Uzumcu met press on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the founding of the OPCW. He hailed the success that nearly all countries are committing themselves to the CWC and most of the world's declared stockpiles have been destroyed.

But "there have been unexpected and unforeseen developments as far as the CWC is concerned over the past few years," he added. "There is more to be done. We need to strengthen the global norm established by the CWC."

As the implementing body for the CWC, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently and verifiably eliminate chemical weapons. The Convention now has 192 states parties covering 98 percent of the global population.

Nearly 95 percent of chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor states have been eliminated under the OPCW. For its efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2013.