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Syria crisis

Assad regime rejects report findings that it used chemical weapons against civilians

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Syria on Wednesday angrily rejected a global watchdog’s report that found it had used chemical weapons on a rebel-held town in 2018, dismissing the charge as “fabricated.”

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Monday that an investigation found the Syrian air force used the chemical weapon chlorine on Saraqib on February 4, 2018.

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In a statement carried by state news agency SANA, Syria’s foreign ministry condemned the report “in the strongest terms.”

It said Damascus “categorically denies its use of poison gas in the town of Saraqib or any other Syrian town or village.”

The report by “the so-called ‘identification and investigation team’ on the alleged incident in Saraqib... contains unfounded and fabricated conclusions,” it said.

Syria’s government has always denied any involvement in chemical attacks, saying it has handed over all such weapons stockpiles to international supervision under a 2013 agreement.

Damascus and its allies have hit back that chemical attacks had been “staged” in Syria in order to incriminate the regime, a scenario ruled out by investigators in Monday’s report.

The OPCW investigators interviewed 30 witnesses, analyzed samples collected at the scene, reviewed symptoms reported by victims and medical staff, and examined satellite imagery to reach their conclusions, the Hague-based organization said.

Symptoms “included shortness of breath, skin irritation, chest pain, and coughing,” the report said.

However, it added that it “regrets” the Syrian regime refused to grant access to the site, 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Aleppo, despite repeated requests.

Read more: Syrian air force may have dropped chlorine bomb in opposition area in 2018: Watchdog