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Chemical attacks in Syria’s war: A timeline

(Photo: Unsplash)
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Since the 2011 start of the civil war in Syria, belligerents — in particular the regime of President Bashar al-Assad — have been accused of using chemical weapons on multiple occasions.اضافة اعلان

The global toxic arms watchdog OPCW said on Monday that the regime’s air force used the chemical weapon chlorine in an attack on the town of Saraqib in 2018.

Here is a look back.

Sarin gas 

In August 2013, regime forces carry out attacks in Eastern Ghouta and Moadamiyet al-Sham, rebel-held areas outside Damascus.

The opposition accuses the regime of using toxic gas in the attacks which kill around 1,400 people, including more than 400 children. 

The government, which acknowledged in 2012 that it possessed chemical weapons, denies the allegations.

Then-US president Barack Obama does not carry out threatened retaliatory strikes, instead reaching a deal with Russia on the dismantling of Syria’s chemical arsenal, under United Nations supervision.

In mid-September, a UN report says there is clear evidence sarin gas was used.

Chlorine, mustard gas

A joint commission of the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) finds in August 2016 that regime helicopters dropped chlorine-packed barrel bombs on two villages in the northern, rebel-held Idlib province in 2014 and 2015.

The commission accuses the Islamic State jihadist group of using mustard gas in August 2015 in the rebel stronghold of Marea in Aleppo province.

In October, 2016, it says the Syrian army carried out a chlorine attack at Qmenas in Idlib in 2015.

- Idlib claims, retaliatory strikes -
Warplanes strike the rebel-held Idlib town of Khan Sheikhun in April 2017, killing more than 80 people.

In response, US President Donald Trump unleashes Tomahawk missiles against the regime’s Shayrat airbase.

UN and OPCW investigators confirm sarin gas was used and say the Damascus regime is responsible. It denies involvement.

The OPCW says sarin and chlorine were also used in two attacks on Latamneh in Hama province on March 24-25, as well as sarin on March 30 in a third attack in the same area north of Damascus.

Damascus accused again

In January 2018, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the regime is suspected of having used chemical weapons in two incidents in Eastern Ghouta that month, with breathing difficulties reported among residents.

On February 25, a child dies and at least 13 people suffer breathing problems after another suspected chemical attack on Eastern Ghouta. A medic describes a “chlorine odour”.

On March 7, the Observatory says at least 60 people suffered breathing difficulties in two areas of Eastern Ghouta after regime air strikes.

On April 7, the White Helmets, who act as first responders in rebel-held areas of Syria, allege regime forces used toxic gas in Douma, killing more than 40. The regime and its ally Russia deny involvement.

Britain, France and the US unleash a barrage of guided missiles on suspected regime chemical weapons facilities on April 14.

In June 2018, a Britain-drafted UN resolution, opposed by Russia and Syria, gives the OPCW new powers to apportion blame for chemical attacks in Syria. A new team of investigators starts its mission in June 2019. 


On February 4, 2018, a dozen cases of suffocation are reported at Saraqib, 50 kilometres (30 miles) to the south of Aleppo.

The OPCW on Monday says the regime’s air force used chlorine in an attack on the town in 2018.

- Northwest-
On May 22, 2019, Washington says it suspects Syrian government forces carried out a fresh chemical attack in northwest Syria three days earlier. 
France later says it has an unverified “indication” of such an attack.

On September 26, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Washington has concluded Assad’s forces used chlorine gas on May 19 as part of its offensive in the last rebel stronghold of Idlib.