IllustrationAbed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) released a statement today (Monday) presenting the findings of the second report by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT). The IIT is responsible for identifying the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic where the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) has determined that chemical weapons have been used or likely used in Syria. The IIT released its first report on 8 April 2020.

The IIT’s second report reiterates its mandate, the legal and practical challenges of its work, and the findings of the investigation focusing on the incident in Saraqib, Syrian Arab Republic, on 4 February 2018.

The IIT’s investigation and analysis included a comprehensive review of all the information obtained including: interviews with persons who were present in the relevant places at the time of the incidents, analysis of samples and remnants collected at the sites of the incidents, review of the symptomatology reported by casualties and medical staff, examination of imagery, including satellite images, and extensive consultation of experts.

The IIT also obtained topographic analysis of the area in question and gas dispersion modelling to corroborate accounts from witnesses and victims. The investigation relied on relevant FFM report as well as on samples and other material obtained by the Technical Secretariat.

The report reached the conclusion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that, at approximately 21:22 on 4 February 2018, a military helicopter of the Syrian Arab Air Force under the control of the Tiger Forces hit eastern Saraqib by dropping at least one cylinder. The cylinder ruptured and released chlorine over a large area, affecting 12 named individuals.