A UN-backed chemical weapons watchdog has offered more proof that the Syrian regime led by President Bashar al-Assad has employed chlorine gas during the ongoing civil war.
In the latest report released by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the agency says "with a high degree of confidence" chlorine gas was used in at least three villages during a conflict last year.
The 117-page report, drafted by a fact-finding mission and obtained by multiple news outlets, also cites witness accounts saying barrel bombs filled with toxic chemicals have been dropped. The mission was set up in April this year to examine allegations of use of chemical weapons during the raging battle in Syria.
This is the third report by the group and is consistent with earlier documents but throws more light on the events.
"32 witnesses saw or heard sound of helicopters as bombs struck; 29 smelled chlorine. Only Syrian regime uses helos [helicopters]," US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power wrote on her Twitter account.
"UNSC met on Syria CW today and reviewed more compelling eyewitness evidence of chlorine gas use by Syrian regime," she adds.
The report did not point fingers at anyone for the use of these chemical weapons. President Bashar al-Assad's forces and the rebel groups accuse each other of perpetrating the attacks, although the Western nations have squarely put the blame on Damascus.
The attacks are believed to have taken place in three villages – two in Idlib and a third in Hama – in April and May 2014.
Syrian ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja'afari declined to comment on the document, according to Reuters.
Following the deadly Sarin gas attack in August 2013, international efforts have been made to push the Syrian regime to get rid of the chemical weapons from the highly unstable war-torn country.