Sarin nerve agent was used in an ‘incident’ at a northern Syrian village in late March, five days before the deadly attack on Khan Sheikhoun which claimed the lives of dozens of civilians, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Wednesday. The March 30 airstrike on the town of Latamnah injured around 70 people who suffered nausea, foaming at the mouth and muscle spasms.
French Ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre said that the UN Security Council was awaiting details of the Latamneh attack, but said the new information was “very troubling to say the least.” He stressed that those responsible for the use of sarin must be determined.
This latest element once again demonstrates the absolute need for OPCW and the UN Joint Investigation Mechanism (JIM) to continue their work in Syria,” Delattre added.
In response to the findings, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Wednesday that it was “clear that the Syrian regime not only lied about the extent of their chemical weapons program, but that they will continue to refuse to cooperate with watchdog organizations like the OPCW.”
Ahmet Üzümcü, director of the OPCW, said Wednesday that the team assembled under the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) with the United Nations had detected the deadly toxin in “environmental samples, soil samples, clothes, metal parts and so on which were sent to our designated laboratories.”
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) in mid-August said it had recorded a total of 207 chemical weapons attacks since 2011, 174 of which took place after the sarin attack on eastern Ghouta back in August 2013 and five after the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikhoun.
The Network said that the Assad regime had not stopped using chemical weapons in the ongoing conflict. It noted that the regime has been most recently carrying out chemical attacks on a smaller scale that do not cause a large number of casualties “for fear of backlash from decision makers who might be prompted to take action against it.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)