November 7, 2015
“In this case, the team was able to confirm with utmost confidence that at least two people were exposed to sulfur mustard, and that it is very likely that the effects of this chemical weapon resulted in the death of an infant,” the OPCW told the AP.
The weaponized chemical used in the attack — sulfur mustard, commonly known as mustard gas — is banned by the Geneva convention, and its use is considered a war crime. Exactly how the rebels obtained the mustard gas remains unclear, as the Syrian government destroyed all of its chemical weapons when it joined the OPCW in 2013 under pressure from the international community. It’s unclear whether the Syrian rebel group who used the chemical weapons are part of the U.S.-backed coalition.
A separate OPCW investigation into allegations of the use of chemical weapons during fighting in Idlib in March found chlorine gas had likely been used. Though that attack was widely attributed to the Assad regime, OPCW did not publicly state whom their investigation found responsible for the attacks.
In a third investigation into claims by the Assad regime its troops came under chemical attack by Syrian rebels, the OPCW “could not confidently determine that a chemical was used as a weapon.”
Incidentally, what sparse mainstream coverage exists concerning the mustard gas investigation has inexplicably switched the terminology used for anti-Assad fighters in Syria — what were dubbed “rebels” only recently have abruptly been widely termed “insurgents” (see here, here, here and here). Coincidentally (or not), the Obama administration recently announced it would be reducing the strict qualifying standards for moderate Syrian rebels to be eligible to receive U.S. weapons. Perhaps the media has changed the designation from rebels to insurgents to prevent the Obama administration from further embarrassment in its embattled plan to oust Assad and defeat ISIS.
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