THE HAGUE, Netherlands —1 March 2019—The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), issued today the final report on the FFM’s investigation regarding the incident of alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic, on 7 April 2018.
The FFM’s activities regarding this allegation included on-site visits to collect environmental samples, conduct witness interviews and gather data. The FFM further analysed a range of inputs including witness testimonies, environmental and biomedical samples analysis results, toxicological and ballistic analyses, and additional digital information from witnesses.
Regarding the alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon in Douma, the evaluation and analysis of all the above-referenced information gathered by the FFM provide reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken place on 7 April 2018. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.
The FFM’s report on the allegation of chemical weapons use in Douma has been shared with States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention and they will soon receive a briefing at OPCW Headquarters in The Hague. The report was also transmitted to the UN Security Council through the UN Secretary-General.
In response to persistent allegations of chemical weapon attacks in Syria, the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) was set up in 2014 with an on-going mandate “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic”.
The FFM’s mandate is to determine whether chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons have been used in Syria. It does not include identifying who is responsible for alleged attacks. The FFM is required to study available information relating to allegations of use of chemical weapons in Syria, including information provided by the Syrian Arab Republic and others. The FFM employs investigative methods to determine if chemical weapons have been used. It interviews witnesses and obtains environmental and bio-medical samples and physical evidence for analysis.
Following the Decision on “Addressing the threat from chemical weapons use”, adopted by the Conference of the States Parties at its Special Session in June 2018, the Technical Secretariat is putting in place arrangements to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic.
On 6 July 2018, the FFM issued an interim report on the investigation regarding the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma in April 2018.
The FFM has previously determined that the use of chlorine, sulfur mustard, and sarin as chemical weapons took place in other incidents in the Syrian Arab Republic.
The OPCW operates according to a strict confidentiality regime, which governs the operations of the Organisation, protects the integrity of its investigations, ensures the security of its technical experts, and determines what information can be made public.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, with 193 State Parties, it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over 96% of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.
Note by the Technical Secretariat: Interim Report on the Progress of the Fact-Finding Mission Regarding an Incident of Alleged Use of Toxic Chemicals as a Weapon in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic, on 7 April 2018