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Global chemical weapons agency to investigate alleged Aleppo attack

Global chemical weapons agency to investigate alleged Aleppo attack
FILE PHOTO: A woman breathes through an oxygen mask after what the Syrian state media said was a suspected toxic gas attack in Aleppo, Syria November 24, 2018. Picture taken November 24, 2018. SANA/Handout via REUTERS -
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THEHAGUE (Reuters) – The global chemical weapons agency will investigate an alleged gas attack in Syria’s Aleppo that reportedly wounded up to 100 people on Saturday, the agency’s chief said on Monday.

The Syrian government, which accused rebels of firing chlorine in Aleppo, requested that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) send a factfinding mission to the site, said Fernando Arias, the OPCW’s new head.

Arias said the OPCW had contacted the United Nations department of security to determine whether it will be possible to sent the team.

Under new powers granted in June, the OPCW will not only be able to determine whether a chemical weapons attack occurred, but can also assign blame. That responsibility had fallen to a joint U.N.-OPCW mission until Russia blocked a U.N. Security Council resolution to extend its mandate a year ago.

Past investigations by the joint mission found that Syrian government forces had used chlorine and sarin several times in the civil war, while the radical Islamist militant group Islamic State was found to have used sulphur mustard gas once.

A health official in Aleppo said victims had suffered breathing difficulties, eye inflammation and other symptoms that suggested the use of chlorine gas.

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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