By Agence France-Presse
The world’s chemical watchdog said Tuesday it has deployed a fact-finding team to look into allegations of a chlorine attack in the Syrian government-held city of Aleppo in November last year.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons received information shortly after the alleged November 24 attack which sparked retaliatory air strikes by Russia.
“In early December an advanced team was deployed to Syria to collect further information. Since then consultations with the Syrian authorities have been ongoing,” the Hague-based OPCW said.
“The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) deployed in early January to further establish facts regarding the allegation,” it added in a statement.
The FFM is to report its findings to the OPCW’s member states, the chemical arms control body said.
Damascus formally requested the OPCW in November to probe the attack which Syrian officials and rights groups said left scores of people struggling to breathe.
Both the Syrian regime and its ally Russia have blamed “terrorist groups” — a term which Damascus uses to mean both rebels and jihadists.
Russia at the time said the shelling came from an area of the buffer zone controlled by the jihadist-dominated Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) alliance.
A rebel coalition denied any involvement, but neither the HTS, nor the Al-Qaeda-linked Hurras al-Deen group present in the area at the time commented on the alleged attack.
It was the latest accusation of a chemical attack in Syria’s grinding civil war, which has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since 2011.