Weapons watchdog: Samples point to chlorine in Syria attack

July 7 (UPI) — There is evidence perpetrators used chlorine in a suspected chemical attack that killed dozens in the Syrian city of Douma in April, according to an interim report from an international chemical weapons watchdog.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons released the report’s findings Friday to highlight the results of the group’s fact-finding mission in Syria. It said workers found “various chlorinated organic chemicals” in samples from two sites. But environmental and plasma samples didn’t indicate the presence of organophosphorous nerve agents, the organization said.

The group cautioned, however, that it has not yet produced its final conclusions on the attack.

The attack struck the rebel-held enclave of Douma in April, killing at least 75 people. Ghouta Medical Center and the volunteer rescue group Syria Civil Defense blamed forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a barrel bomb explosion that reportedly released chemicals causing civilians to suffocate.

President Donald Trump similarly blamed Assad. Sergei Lavrov, the top diplomat for Syrian ally Russia, said in April the attack was staged.

Last month, the OPCW released findings that indicated chlorine was likely used in a March 25 chemical attack in the Syrian town of Ltamenah. Another OPCW report said perpetrators probably used chlorine in a chemical attack in the Idlib province of Syria in February.

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