The OPCW investigation did not establish a chemical attack in Aleppo in 2018

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced Friday that it could not prove whether chemical weapons were used in an attack on Aleppo, which Damascus says “opposition groups” launched in November 2018.

Damascus had formally requested the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in The Hague, to open an investigation into the incident, which caused about 100 people to suffocate and called for a response by Russian raids.

The Syrian authorities accused “terrorist groups,” a term usually used by the Syrian regime that parallels jihadists and opposition fighters, of targeting Aleppo, the Syrian city under the control of the Syrian army.

“The information received and analyzed, the summary of the interviews and the results of laboratory analyzes did not allow the fact-finding mission (the investigation team) to establish whether chemicals were used or not in the incident,” which took place on November 24, 2018, the organization said.

The organization notes in its report that the symptoms that appeared on the presumed victims “could be the result of exposure to an unexploded substance that caused a slight or moderate irritation to the respiratory system”.

The organization added that the certificates did not allow proving the source of the material, and the metal fragments that the Syrian government had highlighted “did not allow establishing a link with the incident”.

A broad coalition of opposition factions’ fighters had denied any involvement in an attack on Aleppo, in which the Syrian authorities and their Russian ally said that chlorine was used.

Washington had accused Damascus and Moscow of seeking to “torpedo” the fragile ceasefire in Idlib governorate, which is under the control of the opposition factions, by promoting the hypothesis of a chemical attack.

According to the United States, the Syrian government used tear gas against civilians to imply a chlorine attack by opposition fighting factions.

In another report published on Friday, the organization announced that it could not prove whether chemical weapons were used in an alleged chlorine attack in Saraqib, a city 50 kilometers south of Aleppo, in August 2016.

The publication of the two reports comes a few days after Russia spoke to the United Nations in New York, questioning the OPCW’s investigations in Syria.