Chemical warfare in Syria
Chemical warfare in Syria iStock

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is demanding more information from Syria about the reported recent destruction of two chlorine cylinders that had been linked to a 2018 deadly attack on the Syrian town of Douma, The Associated Press reports.

The OPCW said Syria’s government sent a note to its secretariat on July 9 reporting that the two cylinders were destroyed by a June 8 air strike on a Syrian military facility which housed a former chemical weapons production facility.

The air strike was blamed on Israel by Syrian state media and reportedly took place near the Syrian capital of Damascus and in the central province of Homs.

The watchdog said that in November the cylinders had been stored and inspected “at another declared site approximately 60 kilometers (about 38 miles) from the location at which they were reportedly destroyed” and that Syria had been advised “it was not to open, move, or alter the containers or their contents in any way without seeking the prior written consent of the secretariat.”

The agency said it never received notification the cylinders had been moved until it was informed of their destruction. It added that it asked Syria to provide “all relevant information regarding the movement of the two cylinders and any remains of their destruction.”

The OPCW also recently said that an investigation found that the Syrian air force used the chemical weapon chlorine in an attack on Saraqib on February 4, 2018.

Syria, which repeatedly denies having any connection to chemical weapons attacks in Syria, rejected the OPCW investigation and said it was “fabricated”.

The OPCW has several times released reports finding that chemical weapons were used on civilians in Syria. However, it did not explicitly say those attacks were carried out by the Assad regime until a report released in April of 2020.

In March of 2019, a report issued by a fact-finding mission from the watchdog that found “reasonable grounds” that chlorine was used in a deadly attack on the eastern Damascus suburb of Douma in 2017.

In April, the global chemical weapons watchdog stripped Syria of its voting rights as punishment for the poison gas attacks.