OPCW: Syrian regime claims evidence in Douma chemical weapons investigation destroyed

THE HAGUE — The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) requested more information from the Syrian regime regarding the reported recent destruction of two chlorine cylinders related to the chemical attack on the Syrian city of Douma.

The OPCW stated that the Syrian government sent a note to its Secretariat on 9 July saying that the two cylinders had been destroyed in an air raid on a Syrian military facility carried out by Israel on 8 June. The facility was previously used for the production of chemical weapons.

The OPCW added that, in November, the two cylinders were stored and searched at another declared location 60 km from the site where they were said to have been destroyed. It also stated that Syria had been informed not to open, move, or alter them or their contents in any way without seeking prior written consent from the Secretariat.

The organization added that it had not received notification about the transfer of the two cylinders until it was informed that they had been destroyed.

On 15 July, it requested that Syria provide all relevant information regarding the movement of the two cylinders and any remnants of their destruction.

During its examination of the two cylinders in November, OPCW inspectors ordered their transportation to OPCW headquarters in The Hague. Syrian officials, however, did not allow them to be shipped outside the country.

Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations Barbara Woodward told the U.N. Security Council that “this incident represents not only a worrying failure by Syria to comply with important requests from the OPCW but also unauthorized interference with evidence central to an ongoing high-level investigation.