OPCW probes couldn't prove chemical use in 2 Syria attacks

FILE - This Wednesday, March 21, 2018 file photo shows the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, Netherlands. The global chemical weapons watchdog says that two investigations into alleged attacks in Syria in 2016 and 2018 couldn't establish that chemical weapons were used in either case. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons issued two reports Friday, Oct. 2, 2020 by its Fact-Finding Mission into attacks in Saraqib in the Idlib region on Aug. 1, 2016, and in Aleppo on Nov. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File) (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

THE HAGUE – The global chemical weapons watchdog said Friday that two investigations into alleged attacks in Syria in 2016 and 2018 couldn't establish that chemicals were used as weapons in either case.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons issued two reports by its Fact-Finding Mission into attacks in Saraqib in the Idlib region on Aug. 1, 2016, and in Aleppo on Nov. 24, 2018.

The report on the Saraqib attack said that open source reports suggested around 30 people, mainly women and children experienced breathing difficulties. The reports also “indicated the presence of a substance with an odor similar to that of chlorine,” the OPCW report said.

Opposition groups blamed the attack on Syrian government forces, an allegation Syria rejected, the OPCW report said.

The Fact-Finding Mission wasn't able to visit the site of the alleged incident or the hospital where injured victims were treated. It had to rely on data including interviews, hospital records and videos and photographs.

Its investigations and analysis “did not allow the FFM to establish whether or not chemicals were used as a weapon,” according to the report issued Friday.

The alleged chlorine attack in Aleppo was blamed on rebel forces.

“Social media reported that armed opposition groups dismissed accusations that they had used poisonous gases to attack areas controlled by the government in the city of Aleppo,” the OPCW report said.