THE HAGUE (AFP) – The world’s chemical weapons watchdog said Wednesday (June 13) that deadly sarin and chlorine were used in two separate attacks in the village of Latamneh in northwestern Syria in late March last year.
“Sarin was very likely used as a chemical weapon in the south” of Latamneh on March 24, 2017, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons(OPCW) said in a statement.
Its fact-finding mission “also concluded that chlorine was very likely used as a chemical weapon” at Latamneh’s hospital and surrounding area on March 25, 2017.
Five days later, on March 30, Latamneh suffered a third attack in which sarin was also used, OPCW director Ahmet Uzumcu told AFP last year. The March 24 sarin attack comes almost two weeks before the deadly strike on the then opposition-held and nearby village of Khan Sheikhun that left more than 80 people dead.
The Khan Sheikhun attack on April 4 last year was previously believed to have been the first use of Sarin by the Syrian regime since the deadly August 2013 attack in and around Damascus which killed hundreds of people.
Two days after Khan Sheikhun, the United States fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase from which it said the attack was launched.
The latest conclusions by the OPCW on the March 24 and 25 attacks “are based on separate witness testimony, epidemiological analysis and environmental samples,” the OPCW said.
The large mass of information “required a longer period of time to draw conclusions,” it said. The FFM’s report has been shared with the organisation’s members and has been “transmitted to the UN Security Council,” it said.
The latest findings on the Latamneh attacks also come as the results of the attack on the Syrian town of Douma is awaited. There, medics and rescuers say 40 people died in a chlorine and sarin attack on April 7.
The Douma attack, attributed to Syrian forces by the West, triggered missile strikes against alleged chemical weapons sites in Syria by the US, Britain and France.