The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) is responsible for determining whether toxic chemicals have been used as weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic. The mandate does not include identifying who is responsible for any alleged attacks.
On the basis of the FFM’s findings, the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) (as the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) did previously), collects and analyses evidence that may help to identify the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
With repeated allegations of the use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes at a number of locations in the Syrian Arab Republic, on 29 April 2014, the Director-General announced the formation of an FFM. The establishment of the FFM was based on the general authority of the OPCW Director-General to seek to uphold at all times the object and purpose of the Chemical Weapons Convention. This authority is reinforced by the relevant decisions of the OPCW Executive Council and the United Nations Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2118 (2013); and its acceptance by the Syrian Arab Republic.
To date, the FFM has issued 19 reports covering 71 instances of alleged chemical weapons use. The FFM concluded that chemical weapons were used or likely used in 20 instances: in 14 cases the chemical used was chlorine, in three cases the chemical used was Sarin, and in three cases the chemical used was mustard agent. These reports were submitted to the States Parties of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the UN Security Council. All FFM reports are published on the OPCW website.
The FFM’s findings are impartial and based on scientific evidence and methods.
FFM experts interview casualties, first responders, treating physicians, and witnesses, and collect physical evidence related to alleged instances of chemical weapons use, such as biomedical and environmental samples. They also gather, review, and analyse documentation relevant to the alleged incidents, including clinical histories, admission records, and investigation reports of casualties and autopsy findings, if available, of victims. Furthermore, FFM experts review and analyse munitions or remnants of munitions reportedly used to carry out the attacks, if deemed feasible and safe.
Samples collected are split and sent for analysis to different laboratories of the network of OPCW Designated Laboratories around the globe which use state of the art technology and operate completely independently from each other. The objective of the sampling and analysis is to provide unambiguous evidence of the presence or absence of a particular toxic chemical in a sample.