Chlorine likely used in February attack in Idlib, Syria: chemical weapons agency

Syrians suffering from breathing difficulties following Syrian regime air strikes on the northwestern town of Saraqeb rest around a stove at a field hospital in a village on the outskirts of Saraqeb (Omar Hajj Kadour/AFP)
Updated 16 May 2018
0

Chlorine likely used in February attack in Idlib, Syria: chemical weapons agency

  • The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons released details of a report into the chlorine use on Wednesday
  • Several people were treated at local medical facilities for breathing difficulties after the attack on Feb. 4

AMSTERDAM: Banned chlorine munitions were likely dropped on a Syrian neighborhood in February, an international body on chemical weapons said on Wednesday, after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of the toxic chemical.
In its latest report on the systematic use of banned munitions in Syria’s civil war, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) did not say which party was behind the attack on Saraqib, which lies in rebel-held territory in the province of Idlib.
An OPCW fact finding mission for Syria “determined that chlorine was released from cylinders by mechanical impact in the Al Talil neighbourhood of Saraqib,” the organization said in a statement.
Several people were treated at local medical facilities for breathing difficulties after the attack on Feb. 4.
The conclusions are based on the presence of two cylinders, which were determined as previously containing chlorine, witness testimony and environmental samples confirming "the unusual presence of chlorine", it said.
A joint OPCW-United Nations mechanism for Syria has previously concluded that the Syrian government has used both sarin nerve agent and chlorine, killing and injuring hundreds of civilians. Rebels were found to have used sulphur mustard once on a small scale.
The government of Syrian President Bashar Assad has denied using chemical weapons and instead has blamed rebels for staging attacks to falsely implicate his forces in the atrocities.
The mechanism was disbanded in November following a Russian veto at the UN Security Council, a move which ratcheted up tension between Moscow and Western powers over chemical weapons use in Syria.
A suspected chemical attack on April 7 in the Douma enclave near Damascus prompted missile strikes by the United States, France and Britain against alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria.


Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons

Updated 23 May 2019
0

Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons

  • Israel reduced the fishing limit to 10 nautical miles
  • The countries agreed to 20 nautical miles in the Oslo accords of 1990s

JERUSALEM: Israel reduced the offshore fishing limits it imposes for vessels operating out of Gaza from Thursday after Palestinians floated balloons fitted with incendiaries over the border, officials said.
The cut came just two days after Israel restored the limits to those set in April ahead of an Israeli general election.
“A decision was taken this Wednesday evening to reduce the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip to 10 nautical miles until further notice,” said COGAT, the defense ministry unit that oversees such regulations.
“The decision was taken after the launch of incendiary balloons from Gaza toward Israel,” it added.
Palestinians in Gaza have frequently floated balloons fitted with firebombs over the border to damage Israeli property and have in the past succeeded in setting fire to large areas of farmland.
Israel banned fishing completely when two days of deadly violence erupted earlier this month, but lifted the ban with a restriction of up to 12 nautical miles following a truce.
The 15-nautical-mile limit that had been restored on Tuesday was the largest allowed in years by Israel, which has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in the enclave and has blockaded it for more than a decade.
But human rights activists note that it still falls short of the 20 nautical miles agreed under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
Israeli authorities have not said whether the 15-mile limit was one of the understandings reached as part of the May 6 cease-fire in Gaza but Israel media reported on Monday that it was.
The additional nautical miles are important to Gaza fishermen as they bring more valuable, deeper water species within reach.
Four Israeli civilians and 25 Palestinians, including at least nine militants, were killed in this month’s exchanges across the border.