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"The Arms Control Association’s work is an important resource to legislators and policymakers when contemplating a new policy direction or decision."

– General John Shalikashvili
former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
OPCW Says Chlorine Used in Syria Attack
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International investigators confirmed in March that a chemical weapon was used in an April 2018 attack in Douma, Syria. The Fact-Finding Mission established by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was not asked to identify the responsible party for the April 7, 2018, attack that reportedly killed dozens and injured many more.

A laboratory technician examines a test vial at an OPCW laboratory near the Hague in 2017.  The agency has determined that an April 2018 attack in Syria used chlorine-based weapons.  (Photo: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)Investigators from the OPCW, the implementing agency of the Chemical Weapons Convention, were unable to visit the attack site until about two weeks after the incident. Their report notes there was evidence of tampering at the site, but they were able to conclude that the “toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.”

Although the mission was not empowered to identify the party responsible for the chemical attacks, the report notes several details at the scene that independent analysts have argued would be consistent with aircraft use. The Syrian regime has access to aircraft, but no nonstate actors in Syria do. The OPCW has created a new investigative body, the Investigation and Identification Team, to assess who conducted chemical weapons attacks in Syria confirmed by the Fact-Finding Mission. (See ACT, July/August 2018.) The head of the new team has been selected, and the team should be fully operational within weeks, OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias told the OPCW Executive Council in mid-March.—ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKRE