OPCW Fact-Finding Mission concludes investigation on reported allegation in Al-Yarmouk, Syria

Report concludes ‘no reasonable grounds’ chemicals used as a weapon in October 2017 incident reported to OPCW by Government of Syria

26 February 2024

THE HAGUE, Netherlands—26 February 2024—The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to determine that toxic chemicals were used as a weapon in the reported incident in Al-Yarmouk, Syrian Arab Republic, on 22 October 2017. 

On 1 November 2017, the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic informed the OPCW Technical Secretariat about an incident in Al-Yarmouk district of Damascus, on 22 October 2017, and reported “use of toxic chemicals in an attack by the terrorist organisation ISIS against another terrorist group called Aknaf Beit Almaqdis in the south area of Al-Yarmouk camp” resulting in several “cases of dyspnoea and loss of consciousness in the ranks of Aknaf terrorist group”. 

The FFM obtained information regarding the incident from diverse sources, including chemical sample analysis, interviews with witnesses, photographs and videos recordings gathered during the field visit to locations relevant to the reported incident, and documents and correspondence exchanged with the Syrian Arab Republic. 

The samples analysis results provided no indication that chemicals were used as a weapon. There was no detection of the presence of scheduled chemicals, their precursors and/or their degradation products, nor of riot control agents, chlorinated organic chemicals or compounds containing chemically reactive chlorine.  The FFM actively pursued further information from all available sources, yet it faced challenges in corroborating the information gathered regarding the reported incident. Furthermore, the FFM actively pursued gathering further testimonies and documentation from witnesses who were present in areas of interest at the time of the reported incident. To date, these attempts have remained unsuccessful as several potential witnesses died during the conflict or are missing, while several other individuals who initially agreed to provide testimony ultimately declined to provide their account of the events to the FFM. 

The information obtained and analysed as a whole was not sufficient to provide reasonable grounds for the FFM to determine that toxic chemicals were used as a weapon in the reported incident that occurred in Al-Yarmouk, Syrian Arab Republic, on 22 October 2017. 

The FFM report was shared with all States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention as well as transmitted to the United Nations Security Council through the UN Secretary-General.

Read the full report. 


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 OPCW Director-General announced the formation of the OPCW Fact Finding Mission (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. Its creation is also based on terms of reference agreed between the Secretariat and the Syrian National Authority.  

The 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.  

To date, the FFM has issued 21 reports covering 74 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.  

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, it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. 

In 2023, the OPCW verified that all chemical weapons stockpiles declared by the 193 States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention since 1997 — totalling 72,304 metric tonnes of chemical agents — have been irreversibly destroyed under the OPCW’s strict verification regime. 

For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. 

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