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Syria: Chemical Weapons

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 265497, tabled on 17 June 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he was informed that there was dissent among Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) team members on 14 March 2019 when the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Executive Council voted down a proposal to allow all FFM team members to brief the OPCW Executive Council on the FFM investigation of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma in 2018.

Answered on

20 June 2019

Ministers receive regular and frequent advice on Syria, including the use of chemical weapons by the Asad regime. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) published on 1 March 2019 the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) report into the chemical weapons attacks in Douma. The FFM conducted a full briefing of States Parties on 5 March. The Director General of the OPCW offered all States Parties the opportunity to submit further questions in writing; and to have technical discussions with the FFM. At the Executive Council on 14 March, the Russian delegation proposed without prior notice a vote on an FFM briefing to State Parties. The UK voted against holding a vote on this issue, as did a clear majority of Executive Council members. The Director General OPCW has confirmed that all evidence and views were taken into consideration in preparing the FFM report; and that the Technical Secretariat stands by the findings. These are: that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a toxic chemical, likely molecular chlorine, was used as a weapon in Douma on 7 April 2018. This is a clear breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The UK has confidence in the FFM's investigation and the conclusions of its report.

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