OPCW chief decides to continue Syrian-attack probe

Ahmet Üzümcü, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said on Wednesday that the organization's fact-finding mission will continue in the wake of an alleged chemical attack recently in Syria.

On March 16, barrels of chlorine gas reportedly were dropped on the small town of Sarmin and a neighboring village by black helicopters. Witness reports, including reports from Doctors Without Borders, said these were government helicopters. The attack killed a family of six and injured 70 civilians and aid workers.

"We have been monitoring the recent reports suggesting that toxic chemicals may have been used as weapons in the Idlib province of the Syrian Arab Republic.," Üzümcü said. "This matter is of serious concern."

The attack has brought forth international attention from the United Nations, especially the U.S. and U.K governments.

Those treated at nearby Samrin Hospital showed signs of chlorine poisoning, hospital staff said. They also reported the strong smell of the gas in the air and on victims' clothing.

Continuation of the OPCW fact-finding mission has been endorsed by U.N. Security Council Resolution 2209 and the group's executive council.

The U.S. State Department said Bashar al-Assad's regime has used chlorine weapons and armaments on Syrians in the past.

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