OPCW: No Evidence of Nerve Agents in Syria’s Douma Attack

A chemical weapons watchdog says it has found no evidence of nerve gas at the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Douma

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Friday that its fact-finding mission had instead found traces of a more simple substance, chlorine, possibly used in the area

The group visited Douma, interviewed witnesses and collected samples roughly a week after the alleged chemical attack in Douma in the Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus on April 7, 2018

Dozens of civilians were reportedly killed in the attack which the US and its allies were quick to blame on the Syrian government

Syria and Russia said no chemical attack happened and the incident was staged by a foreign intelligence agency to pressure Damascus in the face of army advances against foreign-backed terrorists

In its report, the OPCW noted that its designated labs conducted analysis of the prioritized samples

Two samples from gas cylinders recovered at the scene tested positive for chlorine, but there was no evidence of nerve agents

“The results show that no organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties. Along with explosive residues, various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from two sites, for which there is full chain of custody,” read the report

The Hague-based OPCW further noted that it was too early to come to conclusions about the Douma incident

“Work by the team to establish the significance of these results is ongoing. The FFM (fact-finding mission) team will continue its work to draw final conclusions,” it said

Friday’s report came a few days after the OPCW’s member states voted to give the agency new powers to apportion blame for chemical attacks

The Syrian government denounced the organization’s new mandate, saying it came as a result of “the methods of blackmail and threat used by Western countries