Syria chemical inspectors find sarin traces

Weapons inspectors have found traces of precursors for the deadly VX and sarin nerve agents at an undeclared site

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Chemical weapons inspectors have found traces of precursors for the deadly VX and sarin nerve agents at an undeclared site in Syria, according to a European Union document seen Friday.

Maris Klisans, Latvia's permanent representative at the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), told fellow delegates at a closed-door meeting Thursday that the 28-country bloc had a number of "concerns" over Damascus's handling of its chemical weapons issue.

"Last but not least, the recent finding of the (OPCW) Declaration Assessment Team, showing traces of precursors of VX and sarin were found on a site where they were not supposed to be, figure high on that list," Klisans told the delegates, delivering the statement on behalf of the EU.

"The EU is particularly concerned that, due to the above, Syria may still hold chemical weapons materials or undeclared chemical weapons agents," added the statement, which was later published on the OPCW's website.

OPCW spokesman Peter Sawczak declined to give further details, saying he was bound by confidentiality on the matter.

After an August 2013 sarin attack outside Damascus that much of the international community blamed on President Bashar al-Assad's government, the regime agreed to turn over its chemical arsenal.

The United States threatened military action against Damascus over the attack, but held off following the chemical disarmament agreement.

A total of 1,300 metric tonnes of chemical weapons have been removed from Syria, with the majority being destroyed aboard the US Navy ship MV Cape Ray.

The United States however on Wednesday asked the UN Security Council to set up an investigation on the use of chemical weapons in Syria following reports of chlorine gas attacks.

Britain, France and the United States have accused Assad's forces of carrying out the chlorine attacks, using barrel bombs thrown from helicopters.

The three countries argue that only the Syrian regime has helicopters, but Russia maintains there is no solid proof that Damascus is behind the attacks.

The move by the United States follows a Security Council meeting last month during which Syrian doctors gave graphic first-hand evidence of chlorine attacks.

A video of the doctors treating children after a chlorine bomb attack on the village of Sarmin in Idlib province left many council members in tears.

Said Latvian representative Klisans, delivering the statement: "The EU... stresses that those responsible for these illegal acts must be held accountable."

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