Chlorine weapons allegations against both sides in Syria

Posted on Jun 30, 2015

Pope Francis meets with Ahmet Üzümcü, the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), at the Vatican, 27 September 2013. – ANSA

(Vatican Radio) June 26, 2015 – The United Nations Security Council on Friday held an informal meeting on how the international community should respond to the Syrian civil war.

Activists claim more people were killed in May 2015 than in any other month of the war. Even worse, both the government and rebels are accusing each other of using chlorine as a weapon.

“There are allegations of use claimed by Syrian authorities: They claim that some opposition groups have used them,” said Ahmet Üzümcü, the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Here is an account of Marie Duhamel’s interview with Ahmet Üzümcü:

“One of the teams was in Damascus recently, and they are inquiring about them,” Üzümcü told Vatican Radio. “But there is another team which is dealing with the other allegations by the opposition groups, they claim that the Syrian government did use chlorine against them. So this is an ongoing work, but generally speaking, the progress has been quite significant which I welcome and this is a good example of the determination and the political will demonstrated by the international community as a whole.”

OPCW is also verifying the terms of the 2013 agreement by Syria to destroy its chemical weapons.

“All chemical weapons declared by Syria have been taken outside of the country, and 98% of them have already been destroyed under the verification of the OPCW,” Üzümcü said.

“At the moment we are verifying the destruction of production facilities – 12 of them – in in Syria, it is moving quite effectively,” he continued.

“At the same time we have a technical team going and visiting Damascus quite often, and their role is to make sure that the Syrian authorities have declared everything they possessed,” said Üzümcü.

“Through those consultations, our team was able to identity a few areas which were grey areas, and the declaration of the Syrian government, in fact, has been amended and reviewed thanks to the consultations,” he added. “So this process is underway, and we do not how it is going to be final.”