Chemical watchdog to investigate chlorine claims in Syria
The global chemical weapons watchdog overseeing the destruction of Syria's toxic stockpile will send a fact-finding mission to Syria to investigate allegations by rebels and activists of chlorine gas attacks, the organisation said today.
The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said President Bashar al-Assad's government had agreed to accept the mission and had promised to provide security in areas under its control.
"The mission will carry out its work in the most challenging circumstances," the OPCW said, referring to the three-year-old conflict between Assad's forces and rebels. It gave no exact date for the mission but said it would take place soon.
Accusations by rebels and Syrian activist of at least three separate chlorine gas attacks by Assad's forces in the last month have exposed the limits of a deal which Assad agreed last year for the destruction of his chemical arsenal.
Damascus has now shipped out or destroyed 92 percent of the chemicals it pledged to eliminate. However chlorine, which also has many industrial uses, was never included in the list submitted to the OPCW.