Syria group releases database of chemical attacks

Syria group releases database of chemical attacks
A Syrian activist group has released a list of all suspected chemical attacks since 2012.
2 min read
25 April, 2018
Dozens were killed in a suspicious chemical attack in Douma [Getty]

A list of suspected chemical attacks since 2012 have been released by a Syrian activist group documenting war crimes.

The Syrian Archive, which works with other human rights groups such as Amnesty International, has been collecting for over four years videos, images and other data from chemical weapons attacks.

The group said Tuesday it has verified 861 videos from 193 sources covering some 212 attacks in Syria. Most of the material was collected from social media.

Hadi al-Khatib, the group's co-founder, told an audience in Berlin the activists want to ensure the material isn't lost and that it can be used to prosecute those responsible for the crimes.

Earlier in the year, a report linked Syria's largest sarin nerve agent attack in August 2013 - which left hundreds dead - to the Syrian regime chemical stockpile.

A suspicious chemical attack on Douma earlier in the month left over 49 dead, according to medical groups and rescuers, with other estimates reaching over a hundred, prompting punitive strikes by the US, UK and France.

Graphic images and videos emerged on social media following Douma's alleged gas attack, showing children struggling to breathe and entire families who had succumbed to the attack on the floors of underground shelters.

Both Syria and Russia have denied using chemical weapons and have blamed the rebels on using it on themselves to whip up international condemnation or said no attack took place.

Damascus joined the OPCW and agreed to destroy its 1,300-tonne stockpile of industrial munition, under Russia's supervision, following a US-Russian deal.

Despite agreeing to the deal, inspectors have found evidence of an ongoing chemical weapons programme in the country, including systematic use of chlorine barrel bombs and sarin.

Previously, Russia has said it had dispatched experts to Douma who had not found any evidence of chemical weapons use. Later, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that Moscow had "irrefutable" evidence that the deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria's Douma was staged with the help of a foreign secret service. The Russian military added on Friday that the attack was staged on orders from London.

For its part, France has cited "overwhelming testimony" and extensive analysis by French intelligence services and laboratories that pointed to the Assad regime involvement.

Around 500,000 people have died and millions made homeless in seven years of fighting in Syria, which was sparked when regime forces brutally put down peaceful protests in 2011.